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Published on : Wednesday, February 6, 2013
With New Zealand’s national day ‘Waitangi Day’ round the corner, global tourists keen to explore indigigenous cultures and festivals should be there to witness the national event as from North Cape to southern Stewart Island, each Kiwi community has its own unique local way of celebrating New Zealand’s national day ‘Waitangi Day’ on February 6.
While the formal national commemoration takes place at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds – on pohutukawa-fringed lawns overlooking the boat-filled Bay of Islands – many other celebrations around the country reflect laid-back outdoor Kiwi summer life.
Gatherings planned for 2013 offer heaps of summer happenings inspired by the great outdoors, food, music, sport, and Māori culture – ranging from a giant beachside hangi and Māori kai food festival, to outdoor concerts and kite-flying contests in urban and country settings.
There’s even an amateur rocketeers’ day out on a Waikato farm, and Stewart Island’s Islanders vs the Mainlanders rugby match attracts international players and a rowdy local crowd.
Treaty of Waitangi
The annual holiday marks the 1840 signing of New Zealand’s founding document – the Treaty of Waitangi – which brought together representatives of the British Crown and more than 500 Māori chiefs.
Waitangi Day / Te Rā o Waitangi was first officially commemorated in 1934, and it has been a public holiday since 1974.
Many celebrations focus on cultural diversity, and the ever-increasing range of ethnic communities that flavour 21st century New Zealand. Others celebrate with family events – heading to the beach, country race days, or taking part in sports events like the Wellington Sevens with its cast of thousands of costumed rugby fans.
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
The national celebration at Waitangi usually features Māori waka / canoes, the NZ armed services and re-enactments of events around the Treaty signing.
Celebrations will follow tradition with a dawn service and flag raising ceremony in the Treaty grounds, as well as cultural displays and an aerobatic display by the New Zealand Air Force Red Chequers.
The Waitangi Festival – a three-day event during the long weekend – will include concerts by high profile Kiwi musicians and the national ki-o-rahi championships. Ki-o-rahi predates rugby and is a traditional pre-European Māori ball game that is played on a circular field with swift inter-passing of a ki / ball woven from flax.