Waitangi Day

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Waitangi Day
Waitangi Day.jpg
Traditional Maori Waitangi Day celebrations at Waitangi, Bay of Islands
Official name Waitangi Day
Observed by New Zealanders
Type Nationwide
Observances Family meetings, hui, parades, citizenship ceremonies
Date 6 February
Next time 6 February 2018 (2018-02-06)
Frequency annual

Waitangi Day, named after Waitangi where the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed, commemorates a significant day in the history of New Zealand. Ceremonies take place each year on 6 February to celebrate the signing of the treaty, New Zealand's founding document, on that date in 1840. The day is a public holiday, unless it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, when the Monday that immediately follows becomes the public holiday.[1]

History[edit]

The Treaty of Waitangi was first 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 by representatives acting on behalf of the British Crown and initially, more than 40 Māori chiefs. During the next seven months, copies of the treaty were carried around the country to give other chiefs the opportunity to sign.[2] The signing had the effect of securing British sovereignty over the islands of New Zealand, which was proclaimed on 21 May 1840.[3]

Early celebrations[edit]

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 to issue the proclamation, which had been prepared by colonial office officials in England. Hobson had no draft treaty. From the British perspective the proclamation was the key legal document, "what the treaty said was less important".[4]

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 initially signed. They subsequently donated 500 pounds to restore the building. The Treaty House and grounds were made a public reserve, which was dedicated on 6 February 1934.[5] This event is considered to be the first Waitangi Day.[6]

In 1940, another event was held at the grounds, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the treaty signing. The event was a success and helped raise the profile of the treaty and its day of observance in the national consciousness.[7]

Annual commemorations[edit]

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.[8] 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.[citation needed]

Proposed as public holiday[edit]

The Labour Party stated in its 1957 election manifesto that it would make Waitangi Day a public holiday. After winning that year's election, the party said that the country could not afford another public holiday. The Waitangi Day Act of 1960 allowed localities to transfer the holiday from their existing regional public holiday to Waitangi Day.[9]

In 1963, after a change of government, the passing of the Waitangi Day Amendment Act transferred the holiday observed in Northland on Auckland Anniversary Day (the Monday closest to 29 January) to Waitangi Day, 6 February.[10]

Transition to public holiday[edit]

Waitangi Day became a nationwide public holiday on its observance in 1974 by first undergoing a name change. 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 Prime Minister 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 legislation was passed in 1973.[11] For 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.[12] 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.[13]

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 that it debased the treaty. Another Waitangi Day Act was passed in 1976 to change the name back to Waitangi Day.[14]

Waitangi Day underwent 'Mondayisation' in legislation enacted in 2013, shifting the public holiday to Monday if 6 February falls on a Saturday or Sunday.[1]

Celebrations[edit]

At Waitangi[edit]

Celebrations at Waitangi usually commence the previous day, 5 February, at the Ngapuhi Te Tii marae, when political dignitaries are welcomed onto the marae and hear speeches from the local iwi. These speeches often deal with the issues of the day, and vigorous and robust debate occurs.[15] Politicians are usually granted speaking rights, but on occasion, the privilege has been withdrawn, as with Leader of the Opposition Helen Clark in 1999,[16] Prime Minister John Key in 2016 when one faction indicated it would even block him from entering the marae,[17] and Prime Minister Bill English in 2017.[18]

At dawn on Waitangi Day, the Royal New Zealand Navy raises the New Zealand Flag, Union Flag and White Ensign on the flagstaff in the treaty grounds. The ceremonies during the day generally include a church service and cultural displays such as dance and song. Several waka and a navy ship also re-enact the coming ashore of Governor Hobson to sign the treaty. The day closes with the flags being lowered by the Navy in a traditional ceremony.[19]

Elsewhere in New Zealand[edit]

Prime Minister Helen Clark being welcomed onto Hoani Waititi Marae, in West Auckland, Waitangi Day 2006

Some marae use the day as an open day and an educational experience for their local communities, giving them the opportunity to experience Māori culture and protocol, or as an opportunity to explain where they see Māori are and the way forward for Māori in New Zealand.[20][21] Celebrations are largely muted in comparison to those seen on the national days of most countries. There are no mass parades or firework displays, nor truly widespread celebrations.[22][23] As the day is a public holiday, and coincides with the warmest part of the New Zealand summer, many people take the opportunity to spend the day at the beach – an important part of New Zealand culture.[24]

Elsewhere in the world[edit]

In London, UK, which has one of the largest New Zealand expatriate populations, the occasion is celebrated by the Waitangi Day Ball, held by the New Zealand Society UK. The focus of the event is a celebration of New Zealand's unity and diversity as a nation. The Ball also hosts the annual UK New Zealander of the Year awards, cultural entertainment from London-based Māori group Ngāti Rānana and fine wine and cuisine from New Zealand. A service is also held by the society at the church of St Lawrence Jewry.[25]

A tradition, observed for more than 30 years as of 2016, takes place on the closest Saturday to 6 February. Kiwis participate in a pub crawl using the London Underground's Circle Line.[26][27]

In many other countries with a New Zealand expatriate population, Waitangi Day is celebrated privately. The day is officially celebrated by all New Zealand embassies and High Commissions.[citation needed]

For Waitangi Day 2007, Air New Zealand commissioned a number of New Zealanders living in Los Angeles and Southern California to create a sand sculpture of a silver fern on the Santa Monica Beach creating a stir in the surrounding area.[28]

At the Kingston Butter Factory in Kingston, Queensland, Australia, the Te Korowai Aroha (Cloak of Love) Association held a multicultural festival to mark Waitangi Day annually from 2002.[29]

In Sydney, Australia, an estimated 8,000 people attended the 2013 Waitangi Day Festival at Holroyd Gardens, Merrylands, an annual event in its fifth year. The festival featured displays of artefacts, performance of the haka, Māori cuisine and culture, tattooing and wood carving.[30]

6 February 2015, saw the inaugural 'Waitangi Day Commemoration' held at Nurragingy Reserve on Friday 6 February 2015, where the focus is more on the document itself, the Treaty process and the significance to Maori and Kiwi today. It was co-hosted by the Blacktown City Council and the New South Wales Maori Wardens.[citation needed]

Controversy and protest[edit]

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 the Union Flag, 5 February 2006.

By 1971, Waitangi and Waitangi Day had become a focus of protest concerning treaty injustices, with Nga Tamatoa leading early protests. Activists initially called for greater recognition of the treaty, but by the early 1980s, they were also arguing that it 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.[31] This led to 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 it, and protesters generally returned to the aim of raising awareness of it and what they saw as its neglect by the state.[32]

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.[33] Others, for example the United Future Party's Peter Dunne, have suggested that the name be changed back to New Zealand Day.[34]

Recent protests[edit]

A protest on Waitangi Day in 2006

Several hundred protesters often gather at Waitangi to reflect long-standing frustrations manifested among Māori since the treaty's signing. Although not part of the government celebrations, Māori sovereignty activists often fly the Tino Rangatiratanga flag from the flagstaff. Attempts at vandalism of the flagstaff are often an objective of these protests, carrying on a tradition that dates from the 19th century when Hone Heke chopped down the British flagstaff in nearby Russell. In 2004, protesters succeeded in flying the Tino Rangatiratanga flag above the other flags on the flagstaff by flying it from the top of a nearby tree. Some commentators described this gesture as audacious and bold.[citation needed]

Because of the level of protest and threats that had previously occurred at Waitangi, Prime Minister Helen Clark did not attend in 2000. The official celebrations were shifted from Waitangi to Wellington in 2001. Some Māori felt that this was an insult to them and to the treaty. In 2003 and 2004, the anniversary was again officially commemorated at the Treaty House at Waitangi. In 2004, Leader of the Opposition Don Brash was hit with mud as he entered the marae.[35]

On 5 February 2009, the day before Waitangi Day, as then Prime Minister John Key was being escorted onto a marae, he was challenged and jostled by Wikitana and John Junior Popata, nephews of then Māori Party MP Hone Harawira.[36] Both admitted to assault and were sentenced to 100 hours of community service.[37] In 2011, Wikitana and John again heckled Key as he entered the marae.[38] A wet T-shirt thrown at Queen Elizabeth II[39] and other attacks on various prime ministers at Waitangi on 6 February have resulted in a large police presence and a large contingent of the armed forces. In 2016 a nurse protesting against the proposed signing of the TPPA trade agreement threw a rubber dildo at Steven Joyce, the MP representing Prime Minister John Key, who had refused to attend, having been denied normal speaking rights. The woman was arrested but later released.[40]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Extra public holidays voted in". 3 News NZ. 17 April 2013. 
  2. ^ "Creating the Treaty of Waitangi". Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 19 February 2016. 
  3. ^ "The Treaty in brief – Introduction". New Zealand History – nzhistory.govt.nz. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  4. ^ Before Hobson.pp 159–260 T. Simpson. Blythswood Press.2015.
  5. ^ "Story: Bledisloe, Charles Bathurst". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  6. ^ "Waitangi Day – Introduction". New Zealand History – nzhistory.govt.nz. Retrieved 9 February 2017. 
  7. ^ "Waitangi Day 1940s–1950s". New Zealand History – nzhistory.govt.nz. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  8. ^ "A brief history of Waitangi Day". New Zealand Herald. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  9. ^ "The 1960s – key events". New Zealand History – nzhistory.govt.nz. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  10. ^ "Waitangi Day – Waitangi Day 1960s". New Zealand History – nzhistory.govt.nz. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  11. ^ "Waitangi Day 1970s". New Zealand History – nzhistory.govt.nz. Retrieved 9 February 2017. 
  12. ^ "Waitangi Day 1970s". New Zealand History – nzhistory.govt.nz. Retrieved 9 February 2017. 
  13. ^ "Waitangi Day 1970s". New Zealand History – nzhistory.govt.nz. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  14. ^ Waitangi Day at NZhistory.net.nz
  15. ^ "A brief history of Waitangi Day – What happens at Waitangi". NZ Herald. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2017. 
  16. ^ "Clark's no-show at Waitangi a political risk". Stuff.co.nz. 5 February 2008. Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  17. ^ "Prime Minister John Key's no-show at Waitangi 'no great loss'". Stuff.co.nz. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  18. ^ "PM Bill English defends Waitangi Day no-show, says Kiwis 'cringe' at protests". Stuff.co.nz. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  19. ^ "A brief history of Waitangi Day – What happens at Waitangi". NZ Herald. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2017. 
  20. ^ "Open marae for Waitangi Day". Otago Daily Times – odt.co.nz. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  21. ^ "Bill English attends Auckland marae for Waitangi Day celebrations after controversial weekend". TVNZ – tvnz.co.nz. 6 February 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  22. ^ "Unity the message at Waitangi Day dawn service". Bay of Plenty Times. 6 February 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  23. ^ "Gisborne Waitangi Day Celebrations 2015". ngatiporou.com. 6 February 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  24. ^ "A brief history of Waitangi Day – Modern Waitangi Day". NZ Herald. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  25. ^ "St Lawrence Jewry February 2016 Newsletter" (PDF). Company of Distillers. February 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016. 
  26. ^ "Waitangi Day celebratory scrum halts London traffic". Stuff.co.nz. 7 February 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  27. ^ "Kiwis warned off drunk haka on Waitangi Day pub crawl". Stuff.co.nz. 5 February 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  28. ^ YouTube.com, Waitangi Day in Los Angeles
  29. ^ "Explore our neighbour's culture". The Logan Reporter. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2017. 
  30. ^ "Merrylands gets a taste of Maori Culture with the Waitangi Day Festival". Daily Telegraph (Australia) – dailytelegraph.com.au. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  31. ^ Hazlehurst, Kayleen M. (1995), ‘Ethnicity, Ideology and Social Drama: The Waitangi Day Incident 1981’ in Alisdair Rogers and Steven Vertovec, eds, The Urban Context: Ethnicity, Social Networks and Situational Analysis, Oxford and Washington D.C., p.83; Walker, Ranginui (1990), Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle without End, Auckland, p.221.
  32. ^ "A brief history of Waitangi Day – "Not everyone has something to celebrate"". NZ Herald. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2017. 
  33. ^ Paul Holmes (11 February 2012). "Waitangi Day a complete waste". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  34. ^ "United Future press release". UnitedFuture. 5 February 2007. 
  35. ^ "Mud thrown at Brash at marae". The New Zealand Herald. 5 February 2004. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  36. ^ Trevett, Claire (6 February 2009). "Elders condemn attack on PM". The New Zealand Herald. 
  37. ^ "Brothers sentenced for assaulting John Key". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  38. ^ Yvonne Tahana & Claire Trevett (5 February 2011). "Harawira proud of nephew's protest". The New Zealand Herald. with NZPA. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  39. ^ David V. James; Paul E. Mullen; Michele T. Pathé; J. Reid Meloy; Frank R. Farnham; Lulu Preston & Brian Darnley (2008). "Attacks on the British Royal Family: The Role of Psychotic Illness" (PDF). J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 36: 59–67. 
  40. ^ "New Zealand MP 'Dildo Baggins' cops sex toy in the face and takes ribbing on the chin". The Guardian. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2017. 

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