Waitangi Day turned on a perfect day for the dawn service before Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern grabbed the tongs to make a barbecue breakfast for the public.

The service began at 5am and was attended by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, her partner Clarke Gayford, other Government ministers and MPs from National, the Greens and NZ First.

 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives for the dawn service at Waitangi. Photo / Dean Purcell
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives for the dawn service at Waitangi. Photo / Dean Purcell

The service includes prayers and blessings from local dignitaries, and waiata.

After the service Ardern hosted a barbecue breakfast for the public at Waitangi, assisted on the tools by fellow MPs Kelvin Davis and Willie Jackson.


Ardern spoke to the crowd in a grey apron and conceded they had under-estimated the breakfast crowd size, with more than 400 people in attendance.

"We're working on getting some more bacon and sausages. But if there's a little bit of a slowdown it's because we're trying to get more kai so that we can feed all of you."

Bacon, eggs, and sausages were cooked by Ardern, Kelvin Davis, and Willie Jackson.

MPs including Marama Davidson, Jan Logie, Grant Robertson, Chloe Swarbrick served the food.

The breakfast deviates from the traditional Prime Minister's breakfast, which is usually an invite-only event held at the Copthorne.

Ardern has told hundreds of people at her first Waitangi breakfast that she believed it should be shared by all rather than reserved for dignitaries.

Ardern instead opted for a public barbecue breakfast beside the wharewaka, saying she had wanted bacon butties.

But she also had a dig at Key's choice of the more private breakfast.


"The reason we are here is because we didn't want walls to partition us off from you people."

She heads to Auckland later in the day for the Governor-General's reception.

It is the 178th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Ardern read a Celtic blessing from Irish poet John O'Donohue in English and translated into Te Reo Maori.

National MP Steven Joyce gave a reading from the Bible, one he said was also read 178 years ago when the Treaty was signed.

Tracey Martin spoke for NZ First, asking for guidance for the work of Parliament and the relationships within it.

James Shaw thanked Ngapuhi for caring for Waitangi, saying It was the birthplace of the nation. He also said ministers committed to working with tangata whenua in what they did.

Dame Sian Elias led the prayer, in which she asked for guidance in living according to the vision of those who had signed the Treaty in the modern day.

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon delivered a blessing, including for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, her partner Clarke Gayford and for them to have a healthy baby.

Dawn starts to break over the Waitangi Treaty Grounds on Waitangi Day. Photo / Dean Purcell
Dawn starts to break over the Waitangi Treaty Grounds on Waitangi Day. Photo / Dean Purcell

In a lighter moment, Foon also blessed all the names Maori have gifted to Ardern and her MP Peeni Henare's suggestion she bury the placenta at Waitangi.

Foon added those suggestions were wonderful "but let it be known that 50 per cent of the whakapapa is from Tairawhiti [the East Coast]."

Police Commissioner Mike Bush also said he was committed to a police force that was "very human" and acted with compassion.

After singing Whakaaria Mai and the national anthem the dawn service wound up with an address by Ngapuhi leader Sonny Tau who thanked those who had turned up and the Prime Minister.

"We have a very very young country and a very young leader. And that combination, according to her words in the past few days, is going to be dynamite for our country."

Tau acknowledged National for the work it had done towards trying to progress the Ngapuhi settlement over the past nine years, saying that work would be built on.

Tau also acknowledged former PM Dame Jenny Shipley, saying she was now honorary Ngapuhi. Shipley attends Waitangi Day events every year, usually with husband Burton Shipley.

Ardern gifted baby basket

Ardern has been gifted special sleeping baskets for her baby.

Master weaver Cassandra Moar weaved a wahakura and waikawa for the Prime Minister two days ago.

The gifts were accepted by Ardern and Gayford today.

A wahakura is a sleeping place for baby woven from muka flax and waiwaka is a sleeping space place for baby with a different weave from tenax flax.

The devices allow parents to co-sleep with their babies safely.

Rates of sudden unexpected death of an infant (SUDI) have decreased in the wake of risk factor assessments and the adoption of safer sleeping practices for babies.