Treaty – Waitangi, New Zealand

IMG_0246Last month we had another excursion with our cruising buddies Jack & Marce from “Escape Velocity”. This time it was to historic Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, for the Waitangi Day festival which commemorates the signing of the famous treaty in 1840 between the British Crown and the Maori chiefs. When we picked up our hire care from our local ‘Rent a Dent” agent Colin and told him where we were going, he raised his eyebrows and warned us to beware of flying sex toys. Exchanging bemused glances, we reckoned we were in for an interesting day…..

Unfortunately a rather overcast and drizzly day, as it turned out. We arrived early and found a parking spot within easy walk of the treaty grounds. Already crowds were gathering to see the world’s largest ceremonial canoe being paddled out into the bay (with most likely the world’s longest name – Ngatokimatawharorua – Whew, try saying that quickly!), and the opening ceremony Haka performed by local youth on the beach.IMG_0302

That's a big canoe

That’s a big canoe

The local boys getting their Haka on

The local boys getting their Haka on

IMG_0227The press was there in abundance, and we found ourselves corralled by a local radio host for an impromptu interview. When she realized we were ignorant Aussies who didn’t have much of a clue about the topical issues of the day, she mercifully let us go!

Caught on the hop by the local radio station

Caught on the hop by the local radio station

And there seemed to be plenty of topical issues, with many Maori flags on view and causes large and small being promoted.IMG_0293

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This enterprising young guy was trying to raise money for his band

This enterprising young guy was trying to raise money for his band

We sampled the food stalls and the local delicacy, mussel fritters (not bad!) and watched the official ceremonies at the treaty grounds.

Mussel fritters, yum!

Mussel fritters, yum!

Guess this guy was the head honcho Naval Chief

Guess this guy was the head honcho Naval Chief

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The skipper of the yacht may have needed a change of underpants

The skipper of this yacht may have needed a change of underpants

It was a strange juxtaposition of Naval pomp and ceremony (including a 21 gun salute from HMNZ Canterbury) with traditional dancers and singers, but I suppose it reflected the spirit of the original treaty, when Maori chiefs gathered to sign what they thought was an agreement to manage their own affairs in return for protection and governance by the Crown. It seems that maybe that hasn’t turned out as well as they expected…IMG_0345

We admired the long canoe house and the elaborate ceremonial Meeting House, with exquisite and intricate carvings by artists from New Zealand and the Cook Islands (thought to be the ancestral homeland of the original Maori).

Traditional Canoe House

Traditional Canoe House

Entrance to the Carving House

Entrance to the Meeting House

Inside the Carving House

Inside the Meeting House

Magnificent carvings abound

Magnificent carvings abound

As we left we were told there was a procession arriving, so we waited, not knowing quite what to expect. Turns out it was a protest meeting against the NZ Government’s negotiations about free trade with the TPPA – Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

IMG_0399IMG_0424So there we were in the middle of a protest meeting, not being able to understand what was being said, but aware that people were generally pretty upset. Young and old got in on the action, but they were a well-behaved crowd and it was quite fun to be in the thick of it.

This young lad was practicing his haka face

This young lad was practicing his haka face

Later, when we got back to the boat we did some research and it all began to make more sense – Maori were concerned that the government had entered into negotiations without consultation with them, and as owners and holders of many natural resources including forestry and fishing rights, they were understandably upset that their autonomy may be eroded by the agreement with the other 11 Pacific Rim countries.

And what about the flying sex toys I hear you ask?? It seems that a week previously, a female demonstrator had thrown a dildo at Steven Joyce, the Economic Development Minister, shouting “That’s for raping our sovereignty”. Ah, it all becomes clear now…

New Zealand is definitely not a dull place!

Buns, anyone?

Buns, anyone?

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4 Responses to Treaty – Waitangi, New Zealand

  1. Kathy Beatrix Perkins says:

    Di and Bruce, thanks for sharing the great photos and story! NZ is a great place. We are making a short visit 1 -5 May. Auckland and north of the south island.
    Glad to see you are exploring and investigation! Cheers, love and hugs, Kathy SV/Beatrix

    • svtadmin says:

      Hi Kathy & Jeff – great to hear from you. Sorry we’ll miss you in NZ, we’ll be making our way to Opua before heading off to Fiji. Have a great trip and hope to catch up along the way, much love D & B

  2. Michael says:

    Great blog, sis! Lovely photos of the whole ceremony. The local lads doing the Haka don’t look quite as intimidating as the All Black version!! Couldn’t help noticing that the carvings of Maori doing the Haka appear to show no male genitalia, rather the opposite! Any explanations you discovered for that? Possibly a difficult question to ask of a disgruntled Maori on Waitangi Treaty Day! Keep up the good work!

    • svtadmin says:

      hahaha – trust you to notice that Michael! Curious I agree, but it will have to remain a mystery, no way am I asking that question!! I hear the wedding was wonderful (of course) and hopefully you can both take a breather for a while! xx

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