Monday, June 8, 2009

Waitangi, New Zealand

20th Feb 2009

Just up the coast from Paihai is probably the most important historical place in New Zealand - Waitangi. It was here that the treaty between European Settlers and Maori Tribal leaders was signed in 1840. This document is as important to the New Zealand people as the Declaration of Independence is to the Americans, the Magna Carta is to the English and the Lease on the St James Street Guinness Brewery is to the Irish.

Naturally I could not leave the bay of islands without going to see this historic document so after I checked out off my hostel I drove the 1/2 mile or so up the coast in the pouring rain to the treaty grounds.

I was a bit shocked to see that it was $20 for non Kiwis to get into the place. I was thinking that if I tattooed my face I might be able to get in for free but decided against it and coughed up the cash. Once inside I had a quick look around the visitor centre. There were portraits of some of the main signaturies of the treaty - both English and Maori as well as a reproduction of the actual treaty. It also had a a theatre room where they performed daily tribal dances and Hakas for anyone willing to pay extra money.

Treaty of Waitangi - if you feel the need to read it. One slight problem - I photographed the maori language version! (you eejit Raymond!)

I think the gist of the treaty goes something like this:

"We, the English, now own New Zealand. You, the Maori, can now call yourselves British subjects. This means you can keep your lands until we want them. You can keep your religion until we convert you and you can be called upon to act as cannon fodder for any war we deem fit to send you to. God save Queen Vic"

Outside the visitor centre I walked through an elevated forest walkway which lead down to a large open building near the foreshore. Inside it there was a full sized reconstruction of a war canoe or waka. It was very impressive - it took 3 full sized kauri trees to make it. The canoe is called Ngatokimatawhaorua - try saying that 3 times fast!

War Canoe.

The path then lead up to the actual treaty house which used to be the residence of the governor and is now a museum of how the residents used to live. Judging by the number of photos I took inside the place (none!) I think I found it all a bit stuffy and boring.

The last major building I visited was another reconstruction, this time of a traditional Maori meeting house:

Meeting house

A notice outside asked everyone to take off any footwear before entering.

This is what the inside looked like:

Polished wooden floor, me in my sock soles, nobody else about. I just had to! Sock slide extravaganza!

I don't think the wooden people inside were too pleased:

'Disgraceful behaviour'

'Me want gum gum'

It was time to leave the bay of islands and begin my journey back to Auckland. On the way to my next stop in Orewa I made one last detour to Whangaria falls - the next day I was going to do my last bird watch in New Zealand.

Whangarai Falls

Glossary Update:
Irish Slang: Idiot, Moron, Numpty, Muppet, Spanner. Gobshite etc (the irish seem to have a lot of words to describe stupid people)

1 comment:


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How do you like that?