Waitangi Day 2016

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Waitangi Day (named after Waitangi, where the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed) commemorates a significant day in the history of New Zealand. It is observed as a public holiday each year on 6 February to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document, on that date in 1840. In recent legislation, if 6 February falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the Monday that immediately follows becomes a public holiday.[1]

Waitangi Day

Waitangi Day

Fern frond GIMP (640x483)

Good morning from a cloudy Hastings morning.  Yesterday and during the night it was very windy.  Now the wind has died down but the clouds are moving in.  Great for today.

Today, here in New Zealand we celebrate Waitangi Day.  Or New Zealand Day.  So here is some information from Wikipedia.

Waitangi Day (/wˈtʌŋi/,[1] named after Waitangi, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed) commemorates a significant day in the history of New Zealand. It is a public holiday[2] held each year on 6 February to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document, on that date in 1840.

And here is some of the history behind the treaty.

History

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840, in a marquee in the grounds of James Busby’s house (now known as the Treaty house) at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. The Treaty made New Zealand a part of the British Empire, guaranteed Māori rights to their land and gave Māori the rights of British subjects. There are differences between the English version and the Māori translation of the Treaty, and since 1840 this has led to debate over exactly what was agreed to at Waitangi. Māori have generally seen the Treaty as a sacred pact, while for many years Pākehā (the Māori word for New Zealanders of predominantly European ancestry) ignored it. By the early twentieth century, however, some Pākehā were beginning to see the Treaty as their nation’s founding document and a symbol of British humanitarianism. Unlike Māori, Pākehā have generally not seen the Treaty as a document with binding power over the country and its inhabitants. In 1877 Chief Justice James Prendergast declared it to be a ‘legal nullity’, a position it held until theTreaty of Waitangi Act 1975, when it regained significant legal standing.

Early celebrations

Prior to 1934, most celebrations of New Zealand’s founding as a colony were held on 29 January, the date on which William Hobson arrived in the Bay of Islands. In 1932,Governor-General Lord Bledisloe and his wife purchased and presented to the nation the run-down house of James Busby, where the treaty was signed. The Treaty house and grounds were made a public reserve, which was dedicated on 6 February 1934. This event is considered by some to be the first Waitangi Day, although celebrations were not yet held annually. At the time, it was the most representative meeting of Māori ever held. Attendees included the Māori King Korokī Mahuta and thousands of Pākehā. Some Māori may have also been commemorating the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand, but there is little evidence of this.

In 1940, another major event was held at the grounds, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the treaty signing. This was less well attended, partially because of the outbreak of World War II and partially because the government had recently offended the Māori King. However the event was still a success and helped raise the profile of the treaty.

Annual commemorations

Annual commemorations of the treaty signing began in 1947. The 1947 event was a Royal New Zealand Navy ceremony centring on a flagpole which the Navy had paid to erect in the grounds. The ceremony was brief and featured no Māori. The following year, a Māori speaker was added to the line-up, and subsequent additions to the ceremony were made nearly every year. From 1952, the Governor General attended, and from 1958 the Prime Minister also attended, although not every year. From the mid-1950s, a Māori cultural performance was usually given as part of the ceremony. Many of these early features remain a part of Waitangi Day ceremonies, including a naval salute, the Māori cultural performance (now usually a ceremonial welcome), and speeches from a range of Māori and Pākehā dignitaries.

Every year now it is a political hot cake.  To be honest for most people it is a public holiday and a day in the sun, or as this year a long weekend.

Controversy and protest

Source Wikipedia

The flagstaff at Waitangi, the centre of many protests. The flagstaff is flying (left – right) the Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand, the Ensign of the Royal New Zealand Navy and theUnion Flag, 5 February 2006.

Although this is New Zealand’s national day, the commemoration has often been the focus of protest by Māori activists and is often marred by controversy. From 1971, Waitangi and Waitangi Day became a focus of protest concerning treaty injustices, with Nga Tamatoaleading early protests. Activists initially called for greater recognition of the Treaty, but by the early 1980s, protest groups were also arguing that the treaty was a fraud with which Pākehā had conned Māori out of their land. Attempts were made by groups including the Waitangi Action Committee to halt the celebrations.[4] This led to major confrontations between police and protesters, sometimes resulting in dozens of arrests. When the treaty gained greater official recognition in the mid-1980s, emphasis switched back to calls to honour the treaty, and protesters generally returned to the aim of raising awareness of the treaty and what they saw as its neglect by the state.

Some New Zealand politicians and commentators, such as Paul Holmes, have felt that Waitangi Day is too controversial to be a national day and have sought to replace it with Anzac Day.[5] Others for example the United Future Party’s Peter Dunne, have suggested that the name of the day be changed back to New Zealand Day.[6]

Various politicians have tried to get the name New Zealand Day to take over from Waitangi Day.  Me, it was always Waitangi Day.

New Zealand Day

In 1971 the Labour shadow minister of Māori Affairs, Matiu Rata, introduced a private member’s bill to make Waitangi Day a national holiday, to be called New Zealand Day. This was not passed into law. After the 1972 election of the third Labour government under Norman Kirk, it was announced that from 1974 Waitangi Day would be a national holiday known as New Zealand Day. The New Zealand Day Act 1973 was passed in 1973.

For Norman Kirk, the change was simply an acceptance that New Zealand was ready to move towards a broader concept of nationhood. Diplomatic posts had for some years marked the day, and it seemed timely in view of the country’s increasing role on the international stage that the national day be known as New Zealand Day. At the 1974 celebrations, the Flag of New Zealand was flown for the first time at the top of the flagstaff at Waitangi, rather than the Union Flag, and a replica of the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand was also flown.

The election of the third National government in 1975 led to the day being renamed Waitangi Day because the new Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, did not like the name “New Zealand Day” and many Māori felt the new name debased the Treaty of Waitangi.[3] Another Waitangi Day Act was passed in 1976 to change the name of the day back to Waitangi Day.

I chose this photo of a fern to show the unfolding of our nation into what it is today.  Plus the fern is our national symbol.

Thanks for visiting and I hope you have enjoyed the information about my country.

Cheers