Day 3: Waitangi Treaty Grounds - Foray into New Zealand's far north - CycleBlaze

December 7, 2022

Day 3: Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Off the bikes

For once, Mother nature is on our side. Today is a planned off-bike day. It's also unpleasantly wet and windy. Better to bluster now, I reckon, rather than waiting till tomorrow morning.

On the itinerary early this morning is a tour of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds just down the road. We go early, our group organisers having arranged both breakfast and a tour of the grounds before opening to the public. With a large cruise ship moored in the harbour, and thus lots of potential Covid cases wandering the streets, this is a welcome move.

It's hard to overstate the importance of this site to New Zealanders. Early (pre-1840) European explorers and settlers gravitated towards the warmth of the Bay of Islands where there was already a large Maōri population. Whalers, merchant seamen, escaped convicts from Australia  and all sorts of riff-raff had populated the first European settlement at Kororāreka, just across the bay from Paihia. Yesterday's journal placed us in Russell at the end of our ride, a charming wee spot - now on its best behaviour, as I recall writing. Of course, Kororāreka became Russell once the riff-raff had been cleared out. Over the water in Paihia, Māori recognised the need for Britain's help in restoring order and a direct appeal to the Crown brought the first of a series of Residents and Governors culminating in the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 on this spot.

From the Ministry of Justice website: The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 and was an agreement between the British Crown and a large number of Māori chiefs. Today the Treaty is widely accepted to be a constitutional document that establishes and guides the relationship between the Crown in New Zealand (embodied by our government) and Māori - Ministry of Justice.

However, as our excellent guide, Alex, pointed out this morning, this relationship is an evolving and, at times, contentious one. 

A few photos to finish:

Ngātokimatawhaorua, the world's largest ceremonial waka, is sheltered under Te Korowai ō Maikuku near Hobson Beach, Waitangi
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Its prow
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A view of the flagpole captured on our last visit 18 months ago ...
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. . . and today's pic. No flags flying because of damage caused by a protest against the visit of the Governor General, NZ's vice-regal representative. There is still much work to be done on the relationship between Crown and Māori.
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