When is Waitangi Day?
Waitangi Day is New Zealand's national day. It is a holiday held annually on 6 February to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi - New Zealand's founding document - on 6 February 1840.
Since the change in the Holiday Act in January 2014, if Waitangi Day falls on a weekend, the following Monday will be observed as a holiday.
History of Waitangi Day
The Treaty made New Zealand a part of the British Empire, guaranteed Māori rights to their land and gave Māori the rights of British citizens.
The treaty was signed by a group of Maori chiefs and the British Government, as represented by Lieutenant-Governor Hobson.
The treaty was subsequently signed by other Maori chiefs in various locations throughout the country.
There are significant differences between the Māori and English language versions of the Treaty, and since 1840 the question of what obligations the Treaty of Waitangi placed on each side has been a subject of contention ever since.
In 1957, Waitangi Day was proposed as a public holiday by the New Zealand Labour Party in their party manifesto. After Labour won the election they were reluctant to create a new public holiday. Instead the Waitangi Day Act was passed in 1960 which made it possible for a local region to substitute Waitangi Day as an alternative to an existing public holiday.
In 1963, after a change in government, Waitangi Day was substituted for Auckland Anniversary Day as the provincial holiday in Northland.
In the last 25–30 years the style and mood of the commemorations have been influenced by the increasingly heated debate surrounding the status of the Treaty of Waitangi in modern-day New Zealand.