With a long weekend ahead of us there are events planned all over the country to mark Waitangi Day commemorations.
However a recent survey by the Waitangi Treaty Grounds has shown that just over 50 per cent of New Zealanders have ever made the journey across Te Ti Bay, to where the country was signed into existence 181 years ago.
When it came to younger Kiwis those having made the pilgrimage were even fewer, says Greg McManus chief executive of The Waitangi National Trust. Kiwis under 40 were more likely to have visited Stonehenge or than visited the birthplace of the nation.
"Kiwis are known for their adventurous spirit" says McManus. "With overseas travel off the agenda, now is the perfect time to encourage Kiwis to visit New Zealand's most significant historic site as they have historic sites offshore."
The grounds are home to two museums- Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi and Te Rau Aroha- and the Treaty House which McManus calls "this country's most historic site". It is at this site where the first 40 Māori chiefs committed to the treaty, proclaiming "He iwi tahi tatou" - We are now one people.
Over the next eight months copies of the treaty were seen and signed by 500 representatives of local iwi and hapū.
What to do this Waitangi weekend
There were up to 9 copies of the treaty circulated around New Zealand, in English and Māori. While it may have started in Waitangi, the founding day is a whole country event. Here are some of the other places linked by Te Tiriti and how they are marking the anniversary.
Waitangi, Russell and the Bay of Islands
Home of the first copies of the treaty you're spoilt for choice when it comes to historic sites and Waitangi Day events. At the Treaty grounds this Saturday 6 Feb there will be a full day of music, activities and market stalls are over weekend (waitangi.org.nz). Across the bay from Paihia the country's first capital Russell is full of history. Hoist yourself up Flagstaff Hill, for panoramic views of the area.
The hill is where Hōne Heke began the very Kiwi tradition of NZ flag referenda.
Waikato Heads, Kāwhia Manukau Harbour
Copies of the treaty found signatories in the Waikato Heads and West Coast.
Port Waikato was the site of one of the largest treaty gatherings, Sunset Beach and the meandering Waikato estuary is a dramatic backdrop for a walk through history. Following the treaty further down the coast you'll find the hot water beach of Kāwhia. This year the Kāwhia Kai Festival is being held on Saturday 6, giving visitors the chance to partake in traditional craft and delicacies such as Koki – shark liver pate (waikatonz.com/events).
Bay of Plenty and Tauranga sheets
Written in Tauranga, the treaty found its way along the Bay of Plenty towards Ōpōtiki, and further inland to Rotorua and Taupō.
Tauranga is hosting a day of events following a dawn service at Hopukiore Mount Drury, commemorating the area's role in the history of Te Tiriti.
While the bay is the perfect place for a beachy Waitangi long-weekend you'll find plenty of more recent history as well. In Whakatāne, you'll find a very special meeting house.
The Mataatua Wharenui or "the house that came home" was built by Ngāti Awa 35 years after the Waitangi treaty passed through town. However having been packed off for the World Exhibition it spent the next 130 being carted around the world, as far afield as London. Restored to its rightful place in 2011, you can now visit this most well-traveled building and hear its remarkable story.
Coromandel, Otago and Southland
The Bunbury Sheet was the copy of the treaty taken furthest south. From Coromandel Harbour the treaty was taken to Ruapuke Island in the Foveaux Strait, to be signed by members of Ngāi Tahu.
You can see the island on a crossing on the Stewart Island Ferry from Bluff and get a taste of what the windswept South Sea would have been like in mid-June.
Stopping off at Akaroa and Otago Peninsula on the East Coast on the way back north, the Bunbury sheet and its 27 signatures is the furthest reaching copy of the treaty.
Close to Christchurch and another signing location, the Okains Bay Museum Waitangi Day is holding a day-long festival of events – including a Kōtukumairangi waka launch (okainsbaymuseum.co.nz).
The Cook Strait
Bridging the gap between the North and South Islands, the Cook Strait also marks its own contribution to the treaty. Nelson has sadly taken its annual Waitangi Kai Festival off the menu this year, but there is a feast for the senses in the form of Adam Summer Celebration. With a programme of live music and pop-up classical concerts, you'll find events all Thursday until Sunday 7 Feb (music.org.nz).
The forecast looks good for the Gisborne Soundshell, which is hosting the Waitangi Day Out. A free event, on Saturday 6 Feb there will be kai carts, music and a general good vibes provide by the likes of The Blacks Seeds, Troy Kingi & the Clutch.
While you won't find any Vikings in the South Pacific, that hasn't stopped the Wairarapa town of Norsewood hosting a Norse fete. After the success of the first annual Sandi event in 2020 the Viking Festival has returned for another year, proving there's still time to found new Waitangi traditions (