Waitangi Day protests (gente protestando, honor the treaty)
European settlers after the Treaty of Waitangi, were often unaware of the complex Māori system of land rights, leading to dubious purchases and conflicts over ownership. Moreover, despite British assurances that the Māori retained ownership of the whole of New Zealand, the settlers also ended up taking unoccupied land. Conflicts led to the so-called Māori Wars between 1840 and 1872. These were followed by land confiscations. By 1877 the Treaty had come to be completely ignored. In 1890 when New Zealand celebrated its 50th anniversary, the date was that of Hobson’s arrival at Waitangi, 29 January 1840. For the next 100 years, Māori continued to demand that the Crown honour the Treaty. For them this means the return of land that was taken illegally, or compensation for it; that Māori have control and authority over things that are theirs; and that they are consulted on decisions affecting all New Zealanders. In 1960 the Waitangi Day Act declared 6 February as a national day of thanksgiving in commemoration of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. In 1974 it was renamed New Zealand Day. Many protesters felt it denigrated the Treaty of Waitangi. In 1971 activist group Ngā Tamatoa organized the first protests at Waitangi on Waitangi Day. This became a regular occurrence. Common refrains were ‘Honour the treaty’ and ‘The treaty is a fraud’. In 1979 protests at Waitangi were taken up by the Waitangi Action Committee. The ongoing protests have meant that politicians have often avoided attending Waitangi Day at Waitangi, with official government observances happening instead at the governor general’s residence in Wellington.