Waitangi Day is a national holiday in New Zealand. It is an annual celebration of the signing of the Waitangi Treaty in the Bay of Islands on 6 February 1840. Many people consider the Treaty to be the foundation of New Zealand as a Nation.
Over 500 Maori Chiefs signed the treaty as it was taken around the country during the next eight months.
The Maori were the first people to
live in New Zealand.
Europeans first reached New Zealand in the eighteenth century when Captain Cook’s voyage landed there briefly in 1773. By the time Queen Victoria came to the throne, it is estimated that there were about 2000 Europeans in New Zealand. In 1839, the British government decided to make New Zealand part of the British Empire. In 1840 they sent Captain William Hobson to New Zealand as Lieutenant Governor, to acquire the sovereignty of New Zealand, by way of a treaty with the native Maori chiefs.
With the help of missionaries already there, Hobson managed to persuade many of the chiefs that they would be protected.
The Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, the islands of New Zealand became a British colony, part of the British Empire.
The signing of the Waitangi Treaty gave the British sovereignty while guaranteeing Maori land rights.
European settlers ignored the treaty when it suited them. They took over Maori land and this ignoring of the treaty brought about the Maori Wars. The Maoris were left with land in the west of North Island.
Only recently has a New Zealand government apologised to the Maoris for their treatment.
6 February 2012 - Marking the end of the Chinese New Year, Teng Chieh the Lantern Festival takes place.