Jerry Hapuku will always remember Waitangi Day as the date his ancestor signed the Treaty "under the point of a gun".

The local kaumatua is the great-great grandson of the Heretaunga chief Te Hapuku, who along with other Ngati Kahungunu leaders, signed the Treaty of Waitangi when it arrived on the HMS Herald near the Tukituki River, Waipureku (East Clive) on June 24, 1840.

On Waitangi Day the 75-year-old Mr Hapuku gathers his 39 grand children and 12 great grand children together and tells them tales about their ancestor, "a man of great mana".

"We all come together and I tell them their connection, the whakapapa."


Stories passed down through the generations do not describe Te Hapuku as having signed the Treaty willingly.

"Te Hapuku and the other two chiefs headed out on their waka to meet the captain. They didn't want to sign, so he gave them an ultimatum. He said if you don't sign, we'll blow your ship out of the water. So, we say he signed the Treaty under duress - under the point of a gun."

Today will be the fourth time the Havelock North local walks on the hikoi march which sets off from Waipatu Marae at 7am.

With Flaxmere councillor Henare O'Keefe and whanau from the marae, he will lead the walkers to Farndon Park, where they are to receive a stirring welcome from Te Aute College.

The first time he walked in the march he was alone, but these days it is an occasion for his entire family.

About 100 walkers are expected, with the starting point significant as the venue of the first meeting staged by the Maori Parliament in 1892.

As part of the official activities at Farndon Park, there will be a signing of the Treaty of Peace and Harmony. The day will feature a water pageant and waka rides, as well as rides and activities for children and entertainment from locals Bert Hura, Kem Wairau, Michael Savage and Ni Keefe.

Waitangi Day: where to be


A hikoi march will leave Waipatu Marae at 7am, headed for Farndon Park, where walkers will receive a welcome from Te Aute College and local dignitaries will sign a peace treaty. The day will also feature live entertainment and activities for children.

The Big 9 celebrations will be held at the Hawke's Bay Sports Park in Hastings. Free to attend, it will feature nine food, sports, music and art events. A multi-cultural concert from 10am will feature everything from kapa haka to Scottish dancing, hip-hop, country and even belly dancing.

MTG Hawke's Bay will commemorate the day with a special screening of the documentary Canvassing the Treaty at 2pm, with free admission.