Waitangi Day commemorated at Ōtākou Marae

Feb 7, 2020

Waitangi Day commemorations at Ōtākou Marae on the Ōtākou Peninsula have focused on the signatories who signed Te Tiriti on behalf of Ngāi Tahu in 1840.

An estimated 300 people – including MPs, mayors and other community leaders from throughout Ōtākou and Murihiku – were welcomed onto the marae, which hosts the Ngāi Tahu Treaty Festival every third year. Ōtākou Marae holds historical significance as it was one of three places Ngāi Tahu tūpuna signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

Keynote speakers acknowledged the rangatiratanga of the signatories and reminded whānau and manuhiri what had unfolded in the 180 years since the signings, while celebrating the achievements of Ngāi Tahu since settlement and referencing the aspirations that continue through the iwi today. Many also paid tribute to the late Tahu Potiki who passed away in August 2019.

Ōtākou kaumatua Edward Ellison, whose tupuna Hoani Karetai was a signatory, said: “Waitangi Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on the long hard road behind us and think about how we can build a better partnership for the future. It’s been what I would call a long beginning over the last 180 years. It is only really in the last 20 years we’ve been able to develop meaningful discussions, and I’m hoping that by 2040 those discussions will have forged a partnership that will be firmly established.”

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai described in her speech the significance of Te Tiriti for Ngāi Tahu and all Māoridom.

“As I look out over this beautiful landscape, I wonder what our ancestors would think. I assume there would be tears of joy seeing the immense progress we have made, tears of sadness as they acknowledge the steps that have yet to be taken, and above all, a recognition of the strength that our Treaty partnership offers.”

Ōtākou rūnanga representative Donna Matahaere-Atariki said: “We are proud to have hosted the Treaty commemorations on behalf of our wider Ngāi Tahu whānau. The number of manuhiri who have joined us to commemorate this historical day shows the shared acknowledgement of the Treaty not just for Ngāi Tahu, but by many New Zealanders.”

The festival, which began with a rousing pōwhiri, was a fun whānau-friendly day with entertainment and kai stalls, and the launch of a new video produced by Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou, described as a virtual pepeha.