Waitangi Day

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The Treaty of Waitangi

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Waitangi Day, February 6, is a national holiday in New Zealand. It commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the official forming of the modern country.

The treaty was signed in 1840, in a house belonging to James Busby at Waitangi, in the Bay of Islands. But the holiday wasn't celebrated officially in 1934 and wasn't a national public holiday until 1974. The name of the holiday has alternated with New Zealand Day a couple times.

The day is usually celebrated at Waitangi with re-enactments of the famous moments surrounding the signing of the treaty. Elsewhere, parades, church services, and other celebrations mark the famous day.

The treaty itself was a document signed by British leaders and Maori leaders. Essentilly, from the British point of view, the treaty made both islands of New Zealand a British colony. From the Maori point of view, it is a sore spot in relations with the British settlers because some of the concepts, like land ownership, don't translate well from English into Maori languages. Through the years, Maori protests on Waitangi Day have ranged from sublime to severe.

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David White