Kanoa Lloyd's first trip to Waitangi

Kanoa Lloyd always wanted to visit Waitangi on our national day, but felt somewhat anxious about the experience - and she's not the only one.

Many Kiwis feel too nervous about the day's significance to attend, while others feel guilty their Te Reo isn't up to scratch. 

In 2018 The Project host finally decided to spend February 6 at Waitangi, and found the experience very different than she expected. 

From food trucks to market stalls to children playing, the atmosphere was peaceful and community-minded rather than tense.

Peeni Henare, Whānau Ora Minister, says Waitangi Day has changed demonstrably in the past 20 years. 

"The purpose of yesterday and today was to show everyone that Ngāpuhi can actually get stuff done, that Ngāpuhi welcomes everyone here to Waitangi regardless of where you come from, and that we're working on a relationship hopefully for future generations."

Other Waitangi first-timers said they had no idea the event was so family-friendly and positive.

"Whoever comes here, we want them to feel welcome and looked after," Mr Henare says. 

"The agenda they bring, we can't speak for that. But we can protest about anything we want here, which I think is a good thing."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Kanoa that in terms of understanding Waitangi's significance, she's been well-supported - even on the barbeque. 

Kanoa realised every time she put off coming to Waitangi, she was missing out on awesome people, great food and a totally Kiwi experience.

She advises every single New Zealander to go and check it out for themselves.