Waitangi Day is celebrated as a national holiday in New Zealand to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840. The treaty was originally signed at Waitangi House in the Bay of Islands, north of the North Island. Over 540 of the indigenous tribal chiefs signed the treaty which gave Britain sovereignty over the islands of New Zealand. Even at the time this was controversial as not all the chiefs signed it and it led to the British seizing Maori lands which they claimed they would compensate the Maoris for, but often never did.
The first Waitangi Day was celebrated in 1934 but it wasn’t until 1974 when the day become a pubic holiday. From the mid-1950’s, as a form of apology to the Maori people, a Maori cultural performance was included as part of the ceremony. This year in 2022, the public holiday will be celebrated on Sunday 6 February and Monday 7 February.
There is a mention of this treaty in my book, Waireka, a historical novel set in the mid-1850’s, just ten years after the original signing took place.
“They walked along exchanging a few pleasantries about the weather until the Reverend asked, ‘What about little Henry and Maria, Eliza, do you think they’re settling in?’
‘Oh yes, Sir, I think so,’ she replied. She began to tell the Reverend about what they had learnt about the new country and how Henry had been particularly interested in the signing of the Waitangi treaty.”(Waireka, Chapter 3 p63)
If you would like to learn more about the early history of New Zealand through the eyes of a fictional dairying family, please get in touch with me by visiting my website at www.journojohnson.com
The book is based on the story of my great uncle’s story.