Thursday, February 08, 2007

Waitangi Day

Waitangi Day is a pretty low-key affair for most New Zealanders.

It is our national holiday, and commemorates the day that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between Maori and Pakeha. Well, really it was between the representatives of Queen Victoria and a large number of Maori chiefs.

How do we celebrate? Usually there are ceremonies at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, which is where the treaty was actually signed. In the recent past, the ceremonies have sometimes been disturbed by political protest.

It's summer, so most Kiwis are glad of Waitangi day as a holiday, where they can relax at home, go sailing or go for a swim and maybe have a BBQ with friends.

Overseas this year, about 300 New Zealanders gathered on a beach in Los Angeles to make a huge 30 metre long silver fern in the sand. In Afghanistan, some NZ soldiers were digging a hangi so they could have some Maori-style food.

a low-key affair - an event where not a lot of fuss is made
commemorates - is an official reminder of ...
silver fern - a NZ plant, sometimes used as a symbol for NZ eg. the Silver Ferns is our national netball team
a hangi - food that is cooked by being steamed in a hole in the ground

If you would like to listen to this, go to souNZ English.

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