February 8, 2010

Waitangi Day in Kaipoi, the River Town

"The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840, in a marquee erected in the grounds of James Busby's house (now known as the Treaty House) at Waitangi in the Bay of Island. The Treaty made New Zealand a part of the British Empire, guaranteed Maori rights to their land and gave Māori the rights of British citizens" - Wikipedia

Prior to Saturday, February 6, I did not know what Waitangi Day was all about. When I asked Es to explain what the day means to New Zealanders, she too was unsure and she's been here for 6 years. She later suggested that we all go to Kaiapoi, the River town to witness the Māoris in action during the celebration of Waitangi Day.

Es told us to be there by 10 am but as usual, we were late. We missed the opening ceremony which involved the Mayor and local MP's being paddled upriver by Māori warriors in the waka Katoro and greeted by members of the Kaiapoi North School kapahaka group. We didn't miss a lot though. When we arrived, the Emcee was still telling the story of the Waitangi Treaty. Later on, the head, known as Upoko Runanga  opened the proceedings and everyone (except for us) sang the National Anthem. That was the formal part of the festival.

After the formal proceedings, there was a dance performance by a Cook Island performing group. From where I was standing, I could not get a good shot of the dancers, which was too bad. After the dance performance, the emcee, also known as the Wizard proclaimed the main programme of the day, emphasising the staged battle between the Māoris and the British. From what I gathered, before the signing of  the Waitangi Treaty, the Māori people and the Pakeha (the Māori word for New Zealanders of predominantly European ancestry) fought each other and many Māoris died in the war. With the signing of the Waitangi treaty, the dispute ended, Māoris were given rights to their land and they were acknowledged as the People of the Land.

We came to the festival to witness the warrior dance by the Māoris. However, from the way things were going, that wasn't going to happen anytime soon. The wizard mentioned that there were going to be 12 acts altogether and the whole performance  would continue until the late afternoon. This included singing  performances from young vocalist, veteran singers and nearly everything in between.  After the dance performance, there was supposed to be a staged battle between the Māoris and the British, with a special appearance from the Viking Warriors and Pirates of Parnassus. The act should have gone hand in hand with the narration. Unfortunately, the Wizard's narration was too draggy. In his attempt to excite the audience, he sort of spoiled their enthusiasm with his long-winded exposition. He's like the King of spoilers! A lot of yapping and then action. More yapping and the firing of a canon. Fifteen minutes of yapping and then a fight scene. The same drill for an hour.

 The Vikings

The Māori Warriors

The British
The performances were very interesting but things started to get too boring for Alden and he started throwing tantrums, shouting "No, no, no" to his daddy. At one point it was too much for us to handle; the draggy narration plus Alden's screaming, so we decided to leave. We left the festival,  stopped by at the Farmers Market and bought some donuts before heading home. The festival wasn't what I expected but it was enough to give me a history lesson about the Māori.


Caroline said...

alamak mrs! look at den-den's face! really down and miserable oh! sooooo funny ba muka dia.. 5 sen sudah.

Lizeewong said...

Yep...He was sooooo bored oh...Spoiler juga tu. Hehehe...

JIPP said...

I like this post very much. NZ seems to be so synonym with Maori and yet I know very little of them. Didn't know they had to go thru war to fight for their lands. Thanks for sharing Liz. :-)