Around 400 people turned out for Tauranga's Waitangi Day dawn ceremony where speakers reflected on what progress still needs to be made in Aotearoa to fully honour the partnership forged between pākehā and Māori over 100 years ago.

The serene morning sky slowly turned burnt orange as the sun rose and blazed over the crowd gathered on Hopukiore (Mount Drury) in Mount Maunganui.

Despite the 6.30am start, the early risers - some with coffee cups in hand and others with dogs in tow - were chirpy. Many came prepared with blankets.

Waitangi Day dawn ceremony. Photo / George Novak
Waitangi Day dawn ceremony. Photo / George Novak

After the Ratana band kicked things off, a mihi whakatau (welcome), hīmene (hymn), karakia (prayer) and church blessings took place.

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Master of ceremonies Turi Ngatai welcomed the iwi and civic leader speakers up one by one.

Those who spoke included Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber, Tauranga City mayor Greg Brownless, Mauao Māori Constituency representative and Bay of Plenty Regional Council councillor Matemoana McDonald, Labour MP Jan Tinetti, Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey and National Party leader Simon Bridges, Tauranga's MP.

Waitangi Day dawn ceremony. Photo / George Novak
Waitangi Day dawn ceremony. Photo / George Novak

Performances by Waiata International Group and Te Kura o Matapihi's kapa haka group, along with speeches from Rangatahi (youth) speakers, followed this.

The ceremony was concluded with a closing karakia, hīmene and a final performance from the Ratana band.