Thursday, February 5, 2009

Waitangi Day

Image from Wikipedia.

Just pipping the post a day early -- I spotted this NZ Herald article on the history of the day. Quite a good summary, I thought.

They're quite right about full-on and formalised celebrations being of fairly recent vintage -- 1934. At the 25-year mark (1865), the central North Island was still on a war-footing between Imperial and Colonial forces and the Maori iwi, so anything to do with the Treaty of Waitangi was probably a touchy subject. At some place up North called Waitangi (possibly the same place, but it's not certain), each year on New Years the local Total Abstinence Society held their completely non-alcoholic party.

By January 1880, nearly 40 years after the treaty, facsimile copies of the 1835 Declaration of Independence, Captain Hobson's draft, and the treaty as signed by iwi in both main islands, compiled by H. Hanson Turton, were published by the Government Printing Office. (West Coast Times, 23 January 1880)

In 1890, regattas, jubilee celebrations, and even Maori war dances were features of a long series of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the treaty -- just not exactly 6 February. It was more end of January, tying in with the Auckland Provincial holiday.

More on the day here at NZ History Online.

Jayne in the comments brought up a very good point about the document itself -- the Treaty has had a hard time of it over the years. From the Archives New Zealand website:
"In 1841, only a year after the Treaty of Waitangi was drawn up and signed, the documents were saved from a fire at the government offices in Official Bay, Auckland. Poor storage between 1877 and 1908 led to the Treaty being damaged by both water and rodents. However, facsimiles of the Treaty had been created in 1877, before any damage occurred and all signatures have survived. After a series of different conservation treatments, and different homes, the Treaty was finally brought to National Archives in 1989, where the documents are now on permanent display in the secure, stable environment of the Constitution Room, Archives New Zealand."
The above link shows images of the treaty documents as they are today.


  1. I read somewhere that the actual Treaty was in pretty poor shape in the late 1800's/early 1900's when it was found (possibly when it was copied in 1880).
    Ahhh, now I know why I had it listed as "NZ Day" instead of Waitangi Day, a US website had really outdated info lol.

  2. Thanks for bringing up the bit about the document's condition, Jayne --I'll add another link to the post. It had some fairly rum treatment before they finally deposited it with National Archives in 1989.

    No worries about the "NZ Day" mix-up. Folks just naturally think that, as there's Australia Day, there must be New Zealand Day. Poor people -- don't they know we Kiwis like to go our own way on things? ;)

  3. Very cool post Ice!!! To think there was Hobson sick as a dog trying to get the local Maori to sign up in the meantime the NZ Company were doing some underhanded engineering of their own...Found this just in case you weren't aware of it..had the shock of my life. Scroll down the page and you will see Back Roads, Timespanner and Our Great Southern Land there... the website is called History News Network. I suspect it's part of the same organisation that produces the History Channel as well. Awesome the history stirrers are listed!!Cool!! Gotta tell Jayne too!!!


  4. Great Scott! as Superman would say! Cheers for the heads-up regarding that site, Liz -- no, I wasn't aware, but by oath I'm chuffed! Calls for a post, that.

  5. Is it cool or what!!! Hey just updated the Lady St Aubyn post with a couple of questions posed on it let me know what you think. It's just that my research on the ship owners doesn't agree with the Shipwrecks book. Or I could be talking through a hole in my fat head? Pass there. Be cool on the Tory info too. Gee this is a conspiracy?

  6. A conspiracy? I call this "a couple of local historians conferring upon sources and analysis possibilities." All cool stuff. ;-)