Happy New Zealand Day 2021: New Zealand Day, also known as Waitangi Day is the +one observed commemorating the most significant day in the country’s history; the day when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed for the first time. It was on the 6th February, 1840 when the treaty was signed.
The day was officially declared as a national holiday in 1974, bur unless the day falls on Saturday or Sunday, it is a public holiday. The official festivities and celebratory events take place at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the bay of Islands, Northland.
The major traditional activities include Maori cultural performances, speeches from the European dignitaries; Maori and Pakeha, a naval salute, etc. the world’s largest Maori ceremonial war canoe (Waka), Ngatokimatawhaorua, also takes place on the Waitangi Treaty Ground every year.
At the time of 170th celebration of the Waitangi/New Zealand Day, the 70-year-old Waka was renovated and re-launched in 2010.
Current trends for celebrating Waitangi Day:
Some of the customs followed in the old times are still followed even now for the Waitangi Day celebrations which include, a Naval Salute, the cultural performances by the Maori which usually take place in welcoming of the ceremony, speeches from the Mari and Pakeha dignitaries.
The celebrations at Waitangi are seen starting on the day before the actual one (5th February), every year. On this day, the significant political people are welcomed at the Ngapuhi Te Tii marae. Marae is a Ploynesian sacred place which serves religious and social purposes in the Polynesian society.
Here at the marae, speeches delivered by the local Iwi (largest social units in New Zealand Maori society) are held. At the first light of the Waitangi Day, the New Zealand Flag, the Union Flag and White Ensign are raised at the Treaty Grounds by the New Zealand Navy. Church services and cultural displays like dance and songs are the usual events during the Waitangi Day.
The Treaty signing event is re-enacted by some Waka and navy people to commemorate those moments, significant in the New Zealand history. The celebrations close-off by lowering the flags by the Navy, for which a traditional ceremony is held.