We're a country of 4.5 million, and there's probably 4.5 million views on what Waitangi Day means to those of us who call New Zealand home.

As Kiwis celebrate, or not, 177 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Cherie Howie asks ordinary Kiwis what they think about our national day.

Shannon Ferguson, 28, Wellington

It's just a public holiday. I haven't really thought about it, just that we get a day off. I don't have any traditions [for marking Waitangi Day].


Cathy Burns, 55, Wellington

I think it's a nice day to get out with the family. It has been important to New Zealand. I know it's about the Treaty of Waitangi, but it's relevance in today's society is probably not what it should be.

I think a lot of the settlements have occurred and iwi have got most of the entitlements sorted. Now we're moving ahead as one society. I think we need to acknowledge the past, and with the settlements, and move on together.

Hayden Shine, 19, St Luke's

I'm not sure really. It's important for New Zealand, for the Maori culture and signing the Treaty of Waitangi. I don't have any traditions for Waitangi Day. It depends on the weather.

James Smythe, 29, Onehunga

I don't have much nice to say in terms of the politics. It's more February, where summer's really kicking in. I see it as a time to get out and talk with friends and just enjoy the holiday. It's a difficult one. Year after year we turn on the telly, it's our national day, it would be nice to see something positive around the politics.

Wahid Khan, 43, Mangere

I understand it's the signing of the Treaty ... where the set of rules were laid. It's independence day, like we had in Fiji. It's both a celebration and a holiday.

Safin Bi, 29, Pakuranga Heights

It's about the Treaty. I don't know. It is important. Right now, we just think it's just an ordinary day.

Obayd Rasheed, 31, Te Atatu

It's just a remembrance of 1840 and the day the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. If I'm being honest, it's just another day off and out doing shopping and things with the kids. I think it's great they have a [Mondayisation] public holiday law now.

In terms of the history of New Zealand and the make up of New Zealand, we need to remember our past and how New Zealand developed. It's a bit of a shame we don't have some of the members of parliament in Waitangi. It's a significant day to our country and I think that should still be acknowledged.

Kay Hotene, 75, Manukau

My husband was a Maori, he's just passed away. We were married for 55 years and it never meant much to us. It was just another holiday and we never, ever celebrated it. For me it doesn't mean anything.

Daphne Trainor, 25, Mahia

Waitangi Day means to me, it kind of brings everyone together, Maori and non-Maori, and we get to share our [Maori] culture.

They [people] can go to special events anytime, but they don't tend to notice it [outside Waitangi Day].

It's a day that Maori get to celebrate their culture . . . it's a time we lose our negative names and get to shine on the positive bits of our culture.

We usually go together and do a hangi at Te Puea Marae, where my uncle is chairman.

It's different for me because I'm rooted in Waitangi Day. A lot of people would see it as just a day off, but it's also a day we lost half of our identity. But it's still a day we can show our positives, instead of our negatives.

Phillip Cassrels, 56, Glenbrook

I think it's nice to be celebrating. I don't agree with what goes on up north [at the Treaty grounds]. I think it's a disgrace and I agree with the Prime Minister not attending.
I think Waitangi Day is basically a day off now, mainly because of what goes on up there.

Wasim Khan, 15, Mangere

It's a celebration of being a New Zealander. It's important to celebrate, because it's a special day for New Zealand.

Zelda Mountford, 73, Manukau

Basically it's just a holiday, because I don't believe in a lot of the goings on that go on at the Treaty of Waitangi grounds.

I get annoyed about that. We can't we just get along as one race?

For me it's a holiday and as you get older, it's just another day to fill in.

Paul Sami, 25, Papatoetoe

It's a public holiday. That's all I know. I like to do family time on Waitangi Day. I think it's an important day to Maori.