Waitangi Treaty Grounds to be crowd free at 2022 events

Source: 1News

Waitangi Day events at the treaty grounds will be held without crowds in 2022, with virtual events taking place instead.

The crowds at the dawn service at Waitangi Treaty Grounds on February 06, 2021

Waitangi commemorations generally bring about 30,000 to 40,000 people to the area in early February.

The Waitangi National Trust has confirmed there will be no "in-person events" at the upper marae next year.

Citing safety of visitors, staff and the local community, the Trust stated it would be practically impossible to safely proceed with the usual events under Covid-19 restrictions.

Waitangi National Trust Chairman Pita Tipene said New Zealand is in "unprecedented times and the health of our people and of our visitors is our primary concern".

"I know many will be disappointed but it is the right call for the times we are in and we will now look for creative ways in which to commemorate the promise of Waitangi."

Tipene told 1News they’d been coming to the decision for a long time, and considering all their options while keeping an eye on vaccination rates as well.

The Trust received public health advice from the Northland DHB that specified worst-case scenarios and yesterday the Board met and made the decision.

“Very frustrating, very disappointing and I’m personally gutted,” but highlighted the importance of safety of the public as well as staff.

Tipene said the Trust will be looking at creative ways to ensure celebrations of Te Tiriti can continue, to maintain the mission of the trust which is to “illustrate the ongoing promise of Waitangi to the world”

Waitangi is a national day of significance, commemorating the signing of Te Tiriti of Waitangi in 1840.

It’s known as a day where Māori and the Crown come together to discuss issues of the day.

Politicians, officials, iwi leaders and the public head to northland for a number of events in the lead up to the 6th of February.

This year, the Prime Minister took the opportunity to confirm the date for the first Matariki public holiday in 2022. She also pledged “to be open, to be frank, to be honest” about the Treaty partnership between the Crown and Māori.

Since Jacinda Ardern has been at the helm, a bbq breakfast has become a common feature. 1News understands this will not go ahead in 2022 given the Trust’s direction of no in-person events.

When asked their position on travelling to Waitangi next year, the Māori Party said ”we wait for Ngāpuhi”. They skipped this year’s events because of Covid-19 concerns.