Most celebrations of New Zealand’s founding as a colony were marked on the 29th of January, until the (highly controversial) Waitangi Treaty was signed between the Maori Tribesman and English Settlers, agreeing to the ‘sale’ of Land in exchange for a variety of goods. Now, Waitangi day, celebrated by most Kiwis as our national day, is on the 6th of February.
It’s a good day for celebrating being Kiwi, remembering our proud (and not so proud) heritage and appreciating the history of our small land. It does have it’s share of long-standing tensions though – read more here.
Interestingly (your Fact of the day), the official commeration of Waitangi Day was 1930 and has been a public holiday since 1947. The first event was a Royal New Zealand Navy ceremony centring on a flagpole which the Navy had paid to erect in the grounds, then the following year, a Māori speaker was added to the line-up, and subsequent additions to the ceremony have been made nearly every year.
In more general terms these days, Waitangi Day is treated as a celebration of New Zealand as a Nation, much like Australia Day. It’s a bank holiday, with everyone off, generally enjoying spending time with their families.
Some Ex-pat Kiwis celebrate it in London with the Waitangi Day Ball, and as per Sunday’s post a Pub Crawl. Much to my surprise, the Waitangi Day Pub Crawl has made it as far as Wikipedia. “On the closest Saturday to 6 February, Kiwis participate in a pub crawl using the London Underground’s Circle Line… At 4 p.m., a large-scale haka is performed at Parliament Square as Big Ben marks the hour. Participants wear costumes and sing songs such as “God Defend New Zealand”, all of which is in stark contrast to the much more subdued observance of the day in New Zealand itself.”
Happy Waitangi Day!
As an ex-pat do you feel prouder of your Country on national holidays?