The Waitangi Day is a national holiday in New Zealand . Officially commemorated since 1934, it has been a public holiday since 1974, celebrated on February 6th each year to celebrate the signing of the Waitangi Treaty (New Zealand's founding document) in 1840.
The Waitangi Treaty was signed on February 6, 1840 in a large tent erected on James Busby's property near Waitangi in the Bay of Islands . James Busby's house on this property is now known as the Contract House. The treaty made New Zealand part of the British Empire, guaranteed the Māori rights to their land and gave them the rights of British citizens. There are significant differences between the English and Māor versions of the treaty, and this has led to debates practically since 1840 as to what was really agreed upon in the treaty. Māori generally saw the treaty as a sacred pact, while Pākehā (White New Zealanders) ignored it for many years. In the early twentieth century, however, some pākehā began to see the treaty as their nation's founding document and a symbol of British humanity . Unlike the Māori, few Pākehā saw the contract as a valid legal document that must be strictly followed.
In 1932 Charles Bathurst, 1st Viscount Bledisloe (1867-1958), then Governor General of New Zealand, bought the grounds around the former residence of Busby, which had long been privately owned, from private funds. He donated it to the New Zealand state as a foundation to use it as a memorial . On this Waitangi National Trust Estate , Busby's house was first restored (again in 1990) and opened to the public in 1933 as the " Treaty House ". It is now a cultural monument as one of the oldest surviving buildings in New Zealand . To mark the centenary of the treaty in 1940, a Whare Runanga , a traditional Māori meeting house, was built on the site . At the same time, Ngatokimatawhaorua , a 35-meter-long dugout canoe , was cut using the traditional technique from a kauri tree , which is exhibited in its own hall, also with traditional carvings, and requires at least 76 rowers. Today a flagpole stands on the lawn in front of the former Busby residence, marking the approximate place where the contract was signed.
- Waitangi Day . New Zealand History Online,accessed November 25, 2012.