New Zealanders mark Waitangi Day

New Zealanders mark Waitangi Day

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February 7, 2007

New Zealanders mark Waitangi Day
By New Zealand correspondent Peter Lewis
ABC News Online

Feb 6 – New Zealanders are marking the 167th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

They have started with the traditional dawn service at Paihia in the Bay of Islands.

The karakia or blessing heralds the start of Waitangi Day commemorations at the site where Maori and European settlers agreed on a treaty on February 6, 1840.

It has helped define New Zealand as a nation and guarantee Maori sovereign rights ever since and, according to Prime Minister Helen Clark, is still a relevant touchstone for national unity.

“New Zealand is somewhat unique in having a treaty and having that become particularly relevant in the 21st century as our nation diversifies and we know the importance of diverse peoples being able to live alongside each other in peace,” she said.

“My vision for New Zealand is to see us as a country which acknowledges the importance of reconciliation and of having many diverse peoples living alongside each other in peace and harmony and the treaty points the way to that.”

Despite bad weather tens of thousands of people are taking part in political, cultural and sporting activities.


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