Before the sun rose on Tuesday 6th February in the Bay of Islands, thousands of people gathered to commemorate the Treaty of Waitangi amid heightened tensions between the coalition Government and Māori.
The dawn ceremony marked a moment of togetherness for New Zealand.
Speakers at the event highlighted the Treaty’s foundations in love and mutual respect. Alistair Reese reflected on the historical context, recalling how the Treaty was presented as an act of love from Queen Victoria to the Māori people, a theme that resonates with the need for ongoing love and respect in government relations with Māori today.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Labour leader Chris Hipkins shared messages of unity and the Treaty’s role in guiding the country through challenges, emphasizing kindness, compassion, and the pursuit of a fair and prosperous Aotearoa for all. The ceremony also included references to popular culture and the Bible, underscoring the universal values of love and cooperation.
Luxon spoke about the unique and special nature of Waitangi Day gatherings, viewing them as a symbol of New Zealand’s commitment to unity amid diversity. He also addressed housing issues, advocating for easier building processes and partnerships with iwi to improve living conditions, highlighting the collaborative efforts across political parties to address the needs of Māori communities.