Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern serves breakfast at the Treaty Grounds. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern serves breakfast at the Treaty Grounds. Photo / Michael Cunningham

This year's Waitangi Day commemorations were a bit out of the ordinary.

It is not often a Prime Minister and MPs grab tongs and cook breakfast for a crowd of hungry punters, and it is not often the leader of the country takes an extensive hikoi around Waitangi like Jacinda Ardern did yesterday.

But if there is one thing that has stayed the same it is the peace, fun, and togetherness that is felt on Waitangi Day.

"It's the start of going back to the celebrations we had before things just started to go awry and where Waitangi Day was a national celebration and we enjoyed and celebrated our beautiful country," said Te Tai Tokerau MP and Labour Party deputy leader Kelvin Davis.

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The day started with the dawn service at 5am which included prayers and blessings from local dignitaries, and waiata.

But things started to heat up when Ms Ardern cooked and served breakfast with other MPs including Mr Davis, Employment Minister Willie Jackson, Finance and Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson, and Green Party MPs Marama Davidson, Jan Logie and Chloe Swarbrick.

"Usually the prime ministers in the past have had a breakfast inside which was a fairly exclusive event and Jacinda was just not interested in that. She wanted to give something back to the people," Mr Davis said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media with her apron still on from breakfast. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media with her apron still on from breakfast. Photo / Michael Cunningham

There were so many people lined up for food that Ms Ardern had the tough job of telling the crowd they had underestimated the number of people who would turn up.

Mr Davis said he had received positive feedback.

"People are saying the Prime Minister's breakfast here was the best thing we could have done."

Mr Davis' top three tips for a barbecue were:

1. Don't burn the sausages
2. Don't work a barbecue alongside Willy Jackson because it "creates chaos".
3. Have a good hot barbecue - there's nothing worse than stewing your bacon.

After breakfast Ms Ardern took a walk around the Treaty Grounds including the Sports Field where there were a range of stalls and children's rides.

She stopped at different marquees and at one visit was presented a special gift. Master Northland weaver Cassandra Moar made a wahakura, a safe sleeping basket for a baby woven from muka flax, and a waikawa, which is a safe sleeping space with a different weave from tenax flax.

Ms Ardern, who appeared to be taken back by the gift, said to Ms Moar: "It's gorgeous".

Meanwhile, Waitangi National Trust chief executive Greg McManus said he was unable to put a number on the crowd size but it was easily the biggest in the six years he had been in the job.

Police also told him it was the biggest turnout in many years with every carpark full to overflowing.

The success of this year's festivities was mainly due to the decision to shift the politicians' welcome from Te Tii Marae to the Treaty Grounds as well as ''wrapping really strong planning and organisation around everything, making sure everything was taken care of and everyone looked after''.

Superintendent Russell Le Prou, Northland's top cop, said Waitangi Day 2018 was ''by far'' the best one he had been to in seven years in Northland.

''It went really well from a police perspective. We've been able to be in the background and not be overt with any type of action at all. For us it's been a trust and confidence exercise, meeting and greeting the community and showing the human side of policing.

''It's been a hugely successful celebration. The community has joined up, iwi have joined up, and all the welcomes have gone really well.''

There were no arrests in the four days of the police operation at Waitangi. Mr Le Prou urged the people of Northland to come to next year's celebrations.

''It's a great family day, there's lots of things to do. This was by far the best one I've had in seven years up here.''