Kotahitanga, reconciliation, settlement and hope.
They were the themes expressed in the karakia, waiata and speeches at the Waitangi Day dawn service in Mount Maunganui yesterday. Hundreds of people gathered at Hopukiore, Mt Drury, to commemorate 180 years since the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi - the Treaty of Waitangi - on February 6, 1840.
The sun rose as the opening karakia was said and the Ratana Band marched on.
There were speeches from iwi, civic leaders and rangatahi followed by waiata and kapa haka.
Listening to the songs and hearing the speeches, Puhirake Ihaka said he could not help but feel emotional.
"It was emotional. It instilled in me that there is hope moving forward," he said.
"We hope to achieve what we need to achieve and that is a final kotahitanga reconciliation, settlement - all that was expressed in the karakia, speeches and the waiata."
Commemorating Waitangi Day was very different when Ihaka was a boy.
"There was a sense of Waitangi Day ... but it was very much that Māori were not as vocal as they are now," he said.
Ihaka said the true sense of Māoritanga did not come until the 1970s.
"It was strong in the 80s and the 90s was when it took off and there was that reawakening of my generation."
Ihaka said the Treaty was all about a promise of partnership.
"We have taken 180 years to get to a stage where we are not there yet," he said.
"We have to keep striving to get to that final settlement, that final partnership and reconciliation."
He hoped that in 20 years' time on the 200th anniversary of Te Tiriti o Waitangi that the final kotahitanga had been reached.
"To me, that is what it is all about."
Ihaka was heartened to see people of all ages attend the dawn service as well as families of three generations.
"It means that there is a sense of whānau."
Three generations of the Rolleston family woke early to attend the dawn service.
Leanne and Shadrach Rolleston brought their daughter Psalm Rolleston, 9, and their parents Roberta and Robert Watson to commemorate the 180th anniversary together.
Leanne said her daughter questioned why she had to wake so early so she explained the importance of the Treaty.
"I told her there are things in place that weren't in place when my mum went to school. She would get smacked for speaking Māori," she said.
"Now she [my daughter] is in an environment where she can speak her own language."
Robert believed the Treaty needed to be constantly recognised.
"It hasn't been recognised properly in the past. We need to work on constantly being aware of the significance of what happened 180 years ago."
Natashia and Michael Lucas also brought their daughters Bethany, 3, and Eve, 5, to the dawn service.
"We are here because we think Waitangi Day is very important," Natashia said.
"We want our kids to understand the importance between tangata whenua and us as Pākehā. We want to participate in a positive future."
The family also invited the three international students who were staying with them from France and Argentina.
Guillaume Guillard, from France, said he wanted to be part of the history of New Zealand and learn about the Kiwi culture.
Meanwhile, the commemorations continued at the Tauranga Moana Waitangi Day Festival at the Historic Village.
Six-year-old Chhavi Kudecha was learning how to weave flax with her parents Jay and Vish Kudecha as part of the festival.
"She has an interest in the arts and has learned about Waitangi Day at school," Vish said.
"She really wanted to be part of the Waitangi Day celebrations."