New dawn at Waitangi

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives for the dawn service at Waitangi. Photo: NZ Herald
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives for the dawn service at Waitangi. Photo: NZ Herald

Waitangi Day is beginning on a fine day in Waitangi where hundreds have gathered for the the traditional dawn service.

The service begins at 5am and was attended by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, her partner Clarke Gayford, other Government ministers and MPs from National, the Greens and NZ First.

The service includes prayers and blessings from local dignitaries, and waiata.

After the service Ardern will host a barbecue breakfast for the public at Waitangi.

She heads to Auckland later in the day for the Governor-General's reception.

It is the 178th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Ardern read a Celtic blessing from Irish poet John O'Donohue in English and translated into Te Reo Maori.

National MP Steven Joyce gave a reading from the Bible, one he said was also read 178 years ago when the Treaty was signed.

Tracey Martin spoke for NZ First, asking for guidance for the work of Parliament and the relationships within it.

James Shaw thanked Ngapuhi for caring for Waitangi, saying It was the birthplace of the nation. He also said ministers committed to working with tangata whenua in what they did.

Dame Sian Elias led the prayer, in which she asked for guidance in living according to the vision of those who had signed the Treaty in the modern day.

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon delivered a blessing, including for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, her partner Clarke Gayford and for them to have a healthy baby.

In a lighter moment, Foon also blessed all the names Maori have gifted to Ardern and her MP Peeni Henare's suggestion she bury the placenta at Waitangi.

Foon added those suggestions were wonderful "but let it be known that 50 per cent of the whakapapa is from Tairawhiti [the East Coast]."

Police Commissioner Mike Bush also said he was committed to a police force that was "very human" and acted with compassion.

After singing Whakaaria Mai and the national anthem the dawn service wound up with an address by Ngapuhi leader Sonny Tau who thanked those who had turned up and the Prime Minister.

"We have a very very young country and a very young leader. And that combination, according to her words in the past few days, is going to be dynamite for our country."

Tau acknowledged National for the work it had done towards trying to progress the Ngapuhi settlement over the past nine years, saying that work would be built on.

Tau also acknowledged former PM Dame Jenny Shipley, saying she was now honorary Ngapuhi. Shipley attends Waitangi Day events every year, usually with husband Burton Shipley.

The Prime Minister will host a Waitangi breakfast cooked by her ministers on the grounds at 7.30am - prompting several jokes about orders of steak and eggs.


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