By subscribing, you agree to SBS’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, including receiving email updates from SBS

The morning service at Waitangi Contract Site was one of hundreds of events held across New Zealand on Waitangi Day

Leaders from all walks of life in New Zealand celebrated the country’s national day with a service in Waitangi

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was accompanied by other political figures, religious leaders, military and police chiefs and countless others on this grim but soulful occasion

The morning service at Waitangi Contract Site was one of hundreds of events held on Waitangi Day across the country

Fears that COVID-19 could affect attendance did not materialize: Thousands of kiwis brave the 5am start and travel to the site where the Waitangi Treaty was signed by Maori chiefs and the British Crown 181 years earlier became

Beginning in the dark, the gathering heard the prayer and sang Waiata and the national anthem together

Since her appointment as Prime Minister in 2017, Ms. Ardern has had a tradition of government officials cooking a free breakfast for all participants in the service

“When I first became Prime Minister I went through the usual program that every other guide here had and was told that there is usually a Prime Minister’s breakfast and it takes place at the Copthorne (hotel),” said Mrs. Ardern

“In my opinion, this wasn’t as open and didn’t include as many people as I’d like”

New Zealand has celebrated Waitangi Day as a public holiday since 1974, for two years as “New Zealand Day” before reverting to the name of the Basic Treaty

“Every Waitangi day is an opportunity to reflect on how we are progressing, our partnership, our relationship, but we also look forward to hope all the time,” said Ms. Ardern earlier this week

“There are things we need to do better, but I really believe that this is where you get a sense of genuine optimism about what can be achieved together”

Ms. Ardern’s optimism was taken with a healthy dose of local cynicism and truths by some Maori leaders

Hirini Tau, a local Maori elder, told the Prime Minister, “Don’t just sit down and go back to Wellington once a year”

Just like in Australia, indigenous kiwis are over-represented in the prison population, have poorer health outcomes, and are under-represented in positions of power

As is traditionally done, Ms. Ardern spent several days on the contract site in the run-up to Waitangi Day

At these gatherings, she praised her government’s achievements for the Maori, including teaching local history in Kiwi schools, a new Maori New Year holiday, and growth in Maori-specific agencies

Your government also has five Maori ministers and 15 Maori MPs in their 65-member caucus, both on record

But issues such as reducing inequality, removing Maori from the waiting list for housing and admission, and increasing Maori employment remain

Ms Ardern says making progress on these issues is “absolutely why we as the Labor Party are here”

“We’ll always be the first to raise our hands and say we have more to do,” she said

Waitangi Day: The service at dawn for contractual reasons begins with the observance of New Zealand’s national holiday

Six year olds in Hong Kong will soon learn about crimes under national security law in school

An African woman is ready to head the World Trade Organization for the first time

Download our free app from the App Store or Google Play for the latest headlines and breaking news notifications

We welcome feedback: Help us improve by rating the app and sharing your suggestions at apps @ sbscomau

Subscribe right to your inbox for the latest news from Australia and around the world

now

By subscribing, you agree to SBS’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, including receiving email updates from SBS

Watch SBS World News live on TV and in our app every day at 6:30 p.m. Find out about SBS On Demand

Waitangi Day

World News – AU – Waitangi Day: The gloomy dawn service due to contractual reasons begins with the observance of New Zealand’s national holiday

Source: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/waitangi-day-sombre-dawn-service-on-treaty-grounds-kicks-off-observance-of-new-zealand-s-national-day