The 180th anniversary of the signing of New Zealand's founding document will be marked with a week of festivities, debate, pomp and family fun.
Highlights of this year's Waitangi Day commemorations are likely to include the opening of a new whare maumahara (museum) to Māori who served in conflicts from 1840-2020, the unveiling of a statue to land rights campaigner Dame Whina Cooper in Panguru, and a new evening ceremony by all elements of the Defence Force replacing the Navy-led Beat the Retreat of previous years.
Popular regular events will include a lively market and discussion forum at Te Tii Marae, music and kapa haka on multiple stages, waka displays and a mass haka on the beach, and a chance to eat a barbecue breakfast cooked by none other than Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Waitangi Day 2020
All events at the upper Treaty Grounds, Waitangi, unless otherwise indicated.
■ 6am: Hīkoi ki Waitangi starts at Cape Reinga
■ 10am: Pōwhiri for the Governor-General
■ 10am: Unveiling of statue honouring Dame Whina Cooper, Panguru, North Hokianga
■ 5.30pm: Film footage of past Waitangi Days
■ 10am: Pōwhiri for the Prime Minister and MPs
■ 5am: Dawn blessing of new Māori Battalion museum
■ 8.40am: Official opening of new museum
■ 6pm: Te Tama a te Nguha, a Defence Force ceremony honouring Māori military service
■ 5am: Dawn ceremony
■ 6.30am: Flag raising ceremony
■ 6.30am: Prime Minister's barbecue
■ 10am: Interdenominational service
■ 11.30am: Royal NZ Navy big band performance and kapa haka
■ 12 noon: 21-gun salute
■ 12.05-7.30pm: Performances on main stage including kapa haka, Japanese and Pacific drumming, Billy TK Jnr and Carlise Guy
■ 12.05-3pm: Performances on waka stage (lower Treaty Grounds) including kapa haka, hip-hop dance and Te Huaki Puanaki
■ 1pm: Hīkoi from Te Tii Marae to Te Whare Rūnanga
■ Waka displays by up to 14 canoes and a mass haka by paddlers on Tii Beach (timing is tide dependent)
■ Market stalls, debates, discussion forum at Te Tii Marae campground
■ Market at lower Treaty Grounds
■ Market, entertainment and rides at sports fields (opposite Treaty Grounds entrance)
■ For the full Treaty Grounds programme go to www.waitangi.org.nz/whats-on/waitangi-day but note that there's lots more happening elsewhere, especially at te Tii Marae.
Waitangi National Trust chairman Pita Tipene expected at least 30,000 people during the commemorations.
''While there's a whole lot of events I always focus on the fact it's not merely a holiday, it's a time to commemorate the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It's a significant date, 180 years, and we're now looking out to 200 years in another 20 years.''
''Some parts of the media portray Waitangi Day as being very negative, but I think people enjoy it. We're expecting a big crowd to come out and not only enjoy themselves but also remember Waitangi Day for what it really is, the beginning of nationhood and more importantly where we're going as a nation.''
• Lizzie Marvelly: For many, Waitangi Day is just a day off work
• Waitangi Day celebrations accentuate the positive
• Waitangi Day marked at birthplace of the Treaty of Waitangi
• A brief history of Waitangi Day
Māori-Crown Relations Minister Kelvin Davis the Government was trying to create a build-up to Waitangi Day with a series of special events including a Provincial Growth Fund announcement on Sunday, Dame Whina's statue on Monday, and the new museum plus a new Defence Force ceremony on Wednesday.
''Waitangi Day was something people had started to dread but in the last two years we've turned it into something people are enjoying. We're building up towards a great national day for us all on the 6th.''
Davis said the pōwhiri for MPs — the flashpoint in years gone by — had gone ''exceptionally well'' since it was moved from Te Tii Marae to the Treaty Grounds in 2018.
''Ngāpuhi has conducted those pōwhiri in a very dignified and respectful way,'' he said.
When the MPs' welcome was shifted it was for a two-year trial period, after which the decision was supposed to be reviewed. This will be its third year at the Treaty Grounds.
Tipene said he had discussed the issue with Titewhai Harawira who said the decision to move the pōwhiri was made by Ngāpuhi, not the marae, so the only group that could move it back was Ngāpuhi.
With this year being an election year and some political leaders shunning Waitangi in the past there was no knowing what would happen in 2021, he said.