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Case Study – Tauranga Moana Waitangi Day Dawn Service

An Important event on the local calendar

The Tauranga Moana Waitangi Day Dawn Service has been running since the late 1970s, when it was initiated by local kaumatua and kuia and members of the Tauranga District Māori Council. An Organising Committee, with members from Tauranga City Council, Whareroa Marae Committee, Ngāi Tukairangi, Tauranga Moana Māori Wardens, Te Kohinga Network, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the Tauranga Church Community, works to continue the tradition, recognising Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a significant part of Tauranga’s cultural heritage.


Photo credit: Tauranga Moana Waitangi Day Dawn Service Organising Committee

Accessibility and Inclusivity 

Around 400 people gathered at Hopukiore this year to join the service. Special attention was paid to making sure kuia and kaumatua could easily access the site, and that they would be comfortable once they arrived.

The day’s celebrations began with a performance by the Ratana Band, who lead the opening himene. Local kaumatua Kihi Ngatai welcomed those gathered on behalf of the local iwi Ngāiterangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Pukenga.


Photo credit: Tauranga Moana Waitangi Day Dawn Service Organising Committee

What does Waitangi Day mean for New Zealanders?

After local dignitaries had addressed the crowd, and described what Waitangi Day means to them, the public were invited to share their own reflections on the significance of the day. Common themes included unity, peace, and moving forward together.

The Tauranga Moana Waitangi Day Dawn Service is guided by the principle of whanaungatanga. The organising committee look to provide an opportunity for the Tauranga community to come together to commemorate the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in a positive and friendly environment.

Rangatahi involvement key to success

This year’s celebrations included a special focus on rangatahi involvement. Cale Borell and Ngawaiwera Ngatoko, both 2018 TUIA Rangatahi Leadership representatives, were the invited rangatahi speakers. Tamariki from Te Kura o Matapihi performed waiata. The Organising Committee consider rangatahi involvement one of the key successes of their event, and plan to continue to develop it in future events.


Photo credit: Tauranga Moana Waitangi Day Dawn Service Organising Committee

Building relationships in the community

The Organising Committee look forward to celebrating the Waitangi Day Dawn Service for many years to come. They consider it an important event on the local calendar: one that continues to build relationship in the community, develops local awareness of Waitangi Day and Te Tiriti, and celebrates positive partnership.


Updated on 19th September 2019