In New Zealand the 6th February is Waitangi Day to commemorate the signing of the treaty of that name in 1840 that gave the Maori people rights to their land, the rights of British subjects and of course made NZ part of the British Empire. History records many ‘ups and downs’ relating to it but the treaty is celebrated around the world and at High Commissions particularly where the navy connection – the RNZ Navy had a significant flagpole erected in 1947 in the grounds where the treaty was signed and is the centre of annual celebrations - brings the big brass to the party.
And in Canberra a few days before the official day it was on the green grass in the New Zealand High Commission’s backyard with lamb cutlets deliciously glazed and tender, green lip mussels with a squeeze of lemon, mini venison and Guinness pies, ’fush and chups’ all washed down with magnificent wines that brought friends of and local New Zealanders to the party.
It was a perfect early evening soiree with entertainment from the Royal Australian Navy Jazz Band, anthems sung by two of the talented Tumanako Maori Cultural Group with their teacher and leader Isaac Cotter playing guitar and then joining them all for songs from their heritage. And to intimidate and terrify us it was the face of Isaac in the haka performance that reminds us why the All Blacks use it at the start of every game. One young front row haka performer reveled a very 21st century iPhone dangling on the thigh he was slapping!
The High Commissioner of New Zealand Chris Seed enjoyed his second Waitangi Day with a b eer, ‘fush and chups’ and a welcome to all. With 540,000 New Zealanders in Australia he apologized for not inviting them all, but we made up for them in conspicuous consumption of all things delicious from the land of the long white cloud.