Rodney Libraries will be closed this Friday 6 February for Waitangi Day. This is the day when the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed in 1840. It became a public holiday in 1974.
The Treaty was an agreement between Maori chiefs and the British Crown, and covered issues of sovereignty, possession and rights of citizenship. There are two versions, one in Maori and one in English. The difference in translation has caused arguments over the years. However, with many treaty settlements agreements being signed and interpretation by the Waitangi Tribunal leaning towards the spirit of the treaty rather than the letter, ceremonies on the day have settled down. Initially around 40 Maori chiefs signed the Maori language version. By September around 500 chiefs had signed copies of the document that toured New Zealand. Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson, who signed the Treaty on behalf of the Crown, proclaimed British sovereignty over the whole of New Zealand in May. This wasn't ratified by the British parliament until October.
Waitangi Day is gradually becoming a national day of celebration. The Waitangi National Trust manages the major event at Waitangi although there are events all over the country. Maori Television is running a cool project called ‘Where on Google Earth™ will you be on Waitangi Day 2009’.
For more information on Waitangi Day see the New Zealand History Online website.
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