Geraldton celebrates Waitangi Day
The Midwest Multicultural Association came together with the Midwest Waitangi Committee to celebrate New Zealand’s national holiday recently.
Waitangi Day marks the signing of the treaty between the British Empire and Maori people, on February 6, 1840, which founded the nation of New Zealand.
While previous Waitangi Day celebrations in Geraldton have been large community events, similar to last year this celebration was kept small.
Waitangi Committee chairperson Marty Lewis said the smaller gatherings allowed a few families to actually enjoy just standing around and talking to each other.
“In New Zealand it’s a public holiday and it’s much like Australia day, many people go up to Waitangi (the place where the treaty was signed),” she said.
“The tribes have their own waka (canoes), the politicians come to make speeches. They have a weekend long celebration which is all about this treaty.”
The day’s festivities were opened with an introduction from all the attendees – being passed a painted design of a fish hook, which symbolised a speaking stick, before briefly telling the group about their family and heritage.
“When you open the ceremony part of our protocol is to go around the house and everyone gets to speak,” she said.
“Normally back home once a person speaks it’s followed up by a waiata, which is a song.”
Ms Lewis also took the chance to explain the Tino Ranagtiratanga flag, which uses New Zealand’s national colours of black, white and red, to represent the Maori concepts of realms of “potential being”, “being and light”, and “coming into being” respectively, with the spiral frond (or “koru”) signifying the unfolding of new life.
Midwest Multicultural Association president Maringi Querino said the Associations next big event would be Harmony Day on March 18, which would coincide with the City’s multicultural film festival.
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