Waitangi Day's annual hikoi opposes TPPA video

BEVAN READ/stuff.co.nz

Spectators have come from all over the world to see the waka on the water at Waitangi.

Tourists smiled and took selfies as protesters raised their voices and flags for their annual hikoi at Waitangi.

About 500 people singing and carrying banners walked from Te Tii Marae to Te Whare Runanga on Saturday afternoon.

Levi Bristow, who led the crowd, said the hikoi symbolised a unity of people coming together on Waitangi Day. 

Onlookers at the Hikoi at the upper marae.
BEVAN READ

Onlookers at the Hikoi at the upper marae.

"It's about the solidarity of all people. It's not a Ngapuhi thing, it's not a Maori thing," he said.

"It was a family gig and everyone was able to participate. There was zero-tolerance of violence."

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TPP protests at the hikoi.
BEVAN READ

TPP protests at the hikoi.

Clear skies greeted the thousands of people who gathered at Waitangi, a welcome relief after a day of torrential rain and political squabbles.

While the lead-up to Waitangi Day was dominated by political talk and stormy weather, by Saturday the families and festivities largely took over. 

Live music, waka displays, hip hop performances and market stalls entertained the crowd, including a performance by singer Anika Moa.

The Waitangi Day dawn service was a peaceful affair compared to some of the drama on Friday.
BEVAN READ/FAIRFAX NZ

The Waitangi Day dawn service was a peaceful affair compared to some of the drama on Friday.

Earlier, about 1000 people gathered at Te Whare Runanga at dawn to mark 176 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

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National MP Steven Joyce took the place of Prime Minister John Key to say a prayer at the dawn service in Waitangi.

It was the first year Prime Minister John Key refused to attend Waitangi Day commemorations, instead opting to watch rugby league in Auckland.

About 1000 people attended the ceremony.
BEVAN READ/FAIRFAX NZ

About 1000 people attended the ceremony.

The Economic Development Minister took his place as one of the key speakers at the dawn service.

Joyce spoke of the "wonderful displays" at the region's new Waitangi Museum and said a short prayer for the nation.

He called on New Zealand to be inspired by the hope that brought two groups of people together 176 years ago.

BEVAN READ/stuff.co.nz

The Waitangi Day dawn service was complemented by a stunning sun rise over Waitangi.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell prayed for the Prime Minister to return to Waitangi next year.

"We are a better nation when the Treaty of Waitangi is honoured," he said.

Labour leader Andrew Little also said a short prayer and gave thanks for the beautiful country.

The dawn service at the treaty grounds.
BEVAN READ/FAIRFAX NZ

The dawn service at the treaty grounds.

Church and Maori leaders were among the other people who said prayers during the ceremony.

One of the final speakers made mention of the protests that hit headlines in recent days.

"I don't think they're protesters. I think they're people with strong views," the man said. 

Clear skies were a relief after a day of torrential rain at Waitangi.
BEVAN READ/FAIRFAX NZ

Clear skies were a relief after a day of torrential rain at Waitangi.

Following the service, the crowd gathered at the flag pole and hillside to watch the sunrise.

The ceremony was a peaceful affair compared to some of the drama on Friday, which culminated in a protester throwing a sex toy at Joyce.

Meanwhile in Auckland, strong winds stopped the Maori flag from being flown on Auckland Harbour Bridge.

A NZ Transport Agency spokeswoman said safety engineers were on standby since dawn to raise the Tino Rangatiratanga flag, but the winds proved too dangerous.

All the flags were removed from the bridge.

 - Stuff

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