Day 231 on the Road
Celebrating Waitangi Day in Okains Bay
Today we are checking out the Waitangi Day celebrations at Okains Bay in the Banks Peninsula! If you liked this video and want to see more 365 Days: 365 Activities then hop on over to our awesome YouTube Channel!
Today we are celebrating the one Maori holiday in New Zealand, Waitangi Day.
This morning we are hitting the road to the lovely place of Okains Bay, if you guys remember we did bike here not so long ago but this time we are driving there and we are not the only ones. There are heaps of people here because it is one of the main place in New Zealand to celebrate Waitangi Day.
As you can see the celebrations start with a Powhiri which is the Maori welcoming ceremony and this allows us to step onto their ground for the main ceremony to start and while all the politicians start giving speeches to each other, Laura is going to tell you more about what is Waitangi Day and why is it so important in New Zealand.
Waitangi Day is New Zealand’s national day, the day that New Zealand basically became a nation. It happens every year on the 6 February on the same day that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. That was signed between the Maori chiefs and the British to make the nation of New Zealand.
So after the local Maori tribes and the New Zealand Navy representing the English Crown both give their speeches it’s time to end the ceremony with a traditional Hongi.
the hongi is a traditional greeting in Maori and the tribe here take the time to greet every single person in the crowd which is a really nice touch.
After the ceremony, Laura and I browse around the Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum which has some waka which are some Maori war canoes that we’re gonna see in action later on today and we also get ourselves some literature.
So this is both translations of the Treaty of Waitangi. We’ve got the Maori version here and the English one here.
But the festivities continue around the corner. There are heaps of stuff there are some steam machines, there are some stalls that sell some pounamu which are Maori greenstone they are awesome carvings and make amazing pendants souvenirs and there is even some wood chopping demonstrations this is to show the way of life for the colonials when they arrived here in New Zealand. They apparently compete chopping wood the fastest. i don’t really know much about that but this is not the place where we’re gonna be spending most of our time today.
We are quickly making our way across the street because we heard there was some food cos what is a celebration without food?
So we’ve got two tickets for the hangi which is a traditional Maori meal. It’s gonna be lifted at 12. I think it’s right here. I can see a big pile of mud right here. I just don’t want to miss it.
So once we’ve got our tickets we head over to the hangi and talk to some of the locals who have been preparing this. They’ve prepared this since 4am this morning and what’s going on is there are some heated rocks under the ground with loads of food for 600 people and it’s currently slow cooking in the ground and it will be ready later on this afternoon but for now we are going to kill some time by checking out some of these really amazing waka.
However, we notice that one of the waka is missing because it’s currently on the river right now being paddled upstream by about 30 people.
At first we think that there must be some pretty beefy guys in here to paddle all the way upstream from the ocean but once they get closer we realise that it’s actually full of teenagers and children.
All the people paddling the war canoe are locals of the area and they are welcoming us with their own version of their haka and this leads us to the reveal of the hangi. that’s the food, guys, that’s the food.
Everybody in the crowd knows what is the hangi by now and we all know that it’s basically food which has been slow cooked juicy delicious and tasty right underneath this massive pile of dirt and after it has been blessed by the local chief it is actually going to be revealed. the anticipation is now spreading throughout the entire crowd. Everybody is getting really excited I can see some people salivating it’s so cool and it’s slowly gets revealed from underneath the earth but after a little while everybody is kind of hanging back and being like “anytime, guys, anytime”. I personally know that good food takes a lot of time but all the people around here are mostly used to fast food so you can hear a lot of grunts especially from the children but as the food is finally getting revealed and we are seeing the little pieces of tarp being removed from the top of the cage full of amazing goodness people are finally getting excited and a lot of the really smart people are starting to queue up.
But Laura and I are really intrigued by the whole process and we cannot miss all those picture opportunities right here so we don’t see the crowd thinning and the queue lengthening we are just in awe in front of all the food getting digged from the ground.
One of the locals tells us that not every hangi cooking method is the same throughout New Zealand. Different tribes have different ways, different recipes and different ways that they heat the rocks for going underground with the food. But they all go by the same principle that this food has been slow cooked under the ground taking hours and hours to be prepared but finally here’s the moment where it’s getting onto the tables ready to be served to the public.
After seeing the hangi being dug out from underneath the ground, being taken over to the preparation tables, even being served onto the individual tables we finally decide now would be a good time to go queue up. Problem is…
Any time now….
We cannot see an end to this queue. this is the first time we have even seen a queue in New Zealand. What were w thinking?
And then there was us.
That was crazy.
I am actually starving. I was actually starving 2 hours ago. I am going to be starving for another hour.
To be quite honest the wait was well worth it we are treated to chicken, beef, pork, lamb, carrot, kumara, potatoes, cabbage, stuffing and even more all of that served on a way too small plate.
Oh man, it smells delicious I could eat that stuff every single day so we’re gonna be doing like everybody else and we’re gonna find ourselves a nice little spot to enjoy our little picnic and that nice little spot is gonna be right in front of the water because we are treating ourselves after all today is a celebration so look at this yummy treat and celebrate with us.
Now, as I said there are 600 people getting a hangi today and we are probably number 598 and 599 in the queue. We have a long wait ahead of us but we know this is worth it.