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Aotearoa New Zealand Waitangi Day Message from Ken Smith

5 February 2019

News and media


Maori totem with a New Zealand lake in the background

On 6 February, Aotearoa New Zealand observes Waitangi Day, which commemorates the signing of the modern New Zealand’s foundation document – the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti O Waitangi).

The treaty was signed by the British Crown and Māori Chiefs in 1840 and aimed to protect the rights of Māori to keep their land, forests, fisheries and treasures while handing over sovereignty to the British.

In 1975, the Waitangi Tribunal was established as a New Zealand permanent commission of inquiry and has provided a legal framework for the restitution of claims by Māori peoples when they felt there was a breach of the Treaty principles of partnership, participation and protection.

Waitangi Day is celebrated as a public holiday across New Zealand, with official and community, family events showcasing the nation’s achievements, and the potential of a nation which formally recognises its full history, while striving to meet their Treaty obligations.

To all our New Zealand colleagues we say Nga mihi nui – have a great day.