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Waitangi Day (New Zealand)

On February 6 every year, New Zealanders celebrate Waitangi Day, a national holiday to commemorate the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document.

What do people do?

Māori cultural performances, speeches from Māori and Pakeha (European) dignitaries, and a naval salute are all part of the official Waitangi Day celebrations at Waitangi, New Zealand. Waitangi Day is also a time when people publicly debate on issues such as national identity and multiculturalism.

Various activities and events are held at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. It’s a day that bubbles with ceremonies, music, sports and fun. Waitangi Day itself has always involved performances and parades from the Royal New Zealand Navy and local cultural groups.

Public life

Waitangi Day is a statutory public holiday in New Zealand. Schools, government offices and many businesses are closed.

Background

In 1840, representatives of the British Crown and over 500 Maori chiefs signed what is New Zealand’s founding document. The day was first officially commemorated in 1934, and it has been a public holiday since 1974.

Symbols

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are home to 2 national icons:

  • 'Te Whare Runanga', a carved Māori meeting house that commemorates the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Carvings in the house were produced by the local Ngapuhi tribe, but the building is represents all Māori tribes.
  • Ngatokimatawhaorua, one of the largest Māori waka (war canoe). It can seat a crew of up to 80 paddlers and 55 passengers.
Earlier Event: January 31
Chinese New Year
Later Event: March 21
Harmony Day