Waitangi Day is a national holiday in New Zealand on 6 February. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on this day in 1840 and marked the agreement between representatives of the British crown and the various Maori chiefs. In the treaty the Maoris agreed to still have authority and ownership over their land but it was now seen as a colony belonging to the UK. With increasing numbers of British settlers coming to New Zealand, the idea was that the treaty would stop wars and uprisings against the settlers thus allowing for peace between the two groups. However, in the signing of this treaty, the ownership rights of the indigenous Maoris were somewhat diluted.
Waitangi Day was first celebrated in 1934, but wasn’t made a national public holiday until 1974. Nowadays, if the date should happen to fall on a Saturday or Sunday then the following Monday is observed as the holiday.
My novel, Waireka, or Sweet Waters, is set in the 1850’s, so in the very early days of the enactment of the treaty, when there were still some uprisings and skirmishes happening. However, Eliza, as a nursemaid and tutor to the Reid family, would have known about the treaty and seeks to educate the children as to what it is.
“One day when Eliza was taking an evening stroll along the high street, having put the children to bed, the Reverend (Reid) came across the road from the church and asked Eliza if he might join her. Surprised by his request, which was unusual and made her feel uncomfortable, Eliza felt there was little she could do except to acquiesce with a gracious nod of her head. 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, thinking he would be interested in their progress.” (Waireka, Chapter Three, page 63)
Waireka will shortly be available on Amazon but if you can’t wait to read about the early pioneering days of New Zealand and would like a copy sooner, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be happy to send you a copy for just £8 including postage and packing.