Waitangi Day 2024
February 01, 2024 | Stories
Ngātokimatawhaorua, the largest ceremonial waka in the world (Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga)

This is a story from our monthly newsletter, Heritage this Month.

Niki Partsch | Waitangi

Every year the Waitangi Day Festival is held at the Treaty Grounds, a National Historic Landmark site. 

National Historic Landmarks/Ngā Manawhenua o Aotearoa me ōna Kōrero Tūturu  are places of outstanding national heritage value and tell the stories of who we are as New Zealanders, encouraging an appreciation of these places and a commitment to their ongoing protection. 

The recognition programme was launched in 2019 with Te Pitowhenua Waitangi Treaty grounds as the first National Historic Landmark. As the place where Te Tiriti was signed and debated it has significant cultural and historical significance. 

In parallel with the energy devoted to the early debates over the signing of Te Tiriti 184 years ago, there is often intense discussion and debate at nearby Te Tii Marae on this day. This is an integral part of what happens here annually. The festival itself begins early with a dawn service in Te Whare Rūnanga, and an early highlight is the many waka including the mighty Ngātokimatawhaorua, the largest ceremonial waka in the world, which will be out on the water as part of the celebrations. The festival atmosphere is amazing and includes live performances and food. 

There are many stalls set up at the Treaty Grounds, including ours (Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga)

Many other Waitangi Day festivals are held across the country, including at Waitangi Park on the Wellington waterfront.  

This year our National Day of Commemoration will fall on a Tuesday and for many this is an opportunity to take Monday off for an extended long weekend break.  The hot summer weather is ideal for whānau get-togethers and activities like tramping, sports or attending community events and festivals. It’s also a great time to visit our heritage properties, most of which are open with free entry on Te Rā o Waitangi.  

Our many forests, beaches, rivers and lakes will be explored and enjoyed during this time. Situated near the picturesque Haruru Falls, the word Waitangi references the sound of tumbling or weeping waters. There are at least 39 places in Aotearoa New Zealand bearing the same name, 21 of which are ‘official’ names. Perhaps you will visit Waitangi in the far north or will sail into Waitangi Bay in the Chathams or soak in the Waitangi Soda Springs near Lake Rotoehu in the Bay of Plenty on 6 February. 

Haruru Falls near the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga)

Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand’s website has a searchable interactive map of place names in Aotearoa New Zealand that invites exploration.  

On this historic day we celebrate the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi - The Treaty of Waitangi, a collection of documents which are very important to the history, present and future of our nation. 

There are three core principles at the heart of Te Tiriti. They are partnership, protection, and participation. As the nation’s heritage agency, representing all New Zealanders and their interests, these principles are infused into the values and strategic operations of Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. Learn more about our commitment to Te Tiriti and our work to identify, protect and preserve the heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand.

We invite New Zealanders and visitors to experience Aotearoa New Zealand’s history and journey to the present on Waitangi Day. Many of the heritage places we care for will be open with free entry and look forward to welcoming you. 

For more information go to

Waitangi Day
Te Tiriti o Waitangi
Partsch, Niki (author)

Niki Partsch | Kaitohutohu Whanake - Māori Heritage Advisor
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