New Zealanders all around the world will tomorrow celebrate Waitangi Day; the day which commemorates the signing of modern New Zealand’s founding document – the Treaty of Waitangi.
Signed on 6th February 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and a number of Maori chiefs from different North Island tribes, the treaty established New Zealand as part of the British Empire. It also gave the Maori the same rights as British subjects while also recognising Maori ownership of their land.
Two documents were produced – one in English and one in Maori – but over time it has become clear that what was written in the two treaties differed wildly, with the Maori ultimately not receiving as many rights as they had been led to believe they would.
Nevertheless, this date is still given as the birth date of modern NZ. Waitangi Day is a public holiday and, for the most part, one of celebration (a few small protests take place each year in some Maori communities who are still unhappy with the way their forebears were treaded).
Public concerts and festivals are held throughout the country and traditional Maori displays and dances also on show nationwide. Undoubtedly the most famous of these displays takes place at Waitangi House which, among many other ceremonies, includes a re-enactment of the famous events that took place on those very grounds in 1840.
However, due to the day’s controversial origins these celebrations are perhaps more muted
We at Emigrate2, would like to wish all New Zealanders – and, of course, all those hoping to one day become Kiwis – a happy Waitangi Day for tomorrow.