Thousands gather for Waitangi Day dawn service at Treaty grounds

  • 06/02/2024

Waitangi Day commemorations have begun with the annual dawn service at the Treaty Grounds, 184 years after the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi the Treaty of Waitangi.

As the sun rose this morning, thousands of people gathered at Te Whare Rūnanga on Tuesday for the service led by Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro.

It comes after the Government received an at-times frosty welcome to the Treaty Grounds on Monday where a crowd was unafraid to heckle the politicians' speeches.

Bishop Te Kito Pikaahu began the dawn ceremony before handing over to Waitangi National Trust Board chairman Pita Tipene who welcomed the crowd.

Some of New Zealand’s most senior leaders are seated on the porch, including Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, and Leader of the Opposition Chris Hipkins. While other ministers and MPs sat in the crowd.

The morning consisted of waiata and prayers, as well as speeches from various dignitaries including politicians and Māori leaders.

Apart from some murmurs from the crowd during ACT leader David Seymour's short speech, the service was far less tumultuous than Monday's events. 

Luxon delivered a Bible reading from 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 where he spoke of unity.

"God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other," he recited. 

"If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it."

Broadcaster, actor and Tai Tokerau kaumātua Waihoroi Shortland concluded the service.