WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Thursday is a national holiday for New Zealand as it commemorates 174 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the country's founding document.
Hundreds of New Zealanders celebrated on the Treaty Grounds. During a reenactment of the waka (canoe) and navy ship coming ashore for the treaty signing Thursday, rough seas prompted two government officials to help pull the waka to shore. Labour Leader David Cunliffe explained, "The waka master Hector Busby decided it was cutting up too rough to leave this very, very precious waka out on the water so they called for volunteers to help pull it in." He added that with the help of Maori Affairs spokesman Shane Jones, "Jonesy and me were in suits so off came the jackets, off came the shoes and socks and we rolled up our trousers and got into it. It was a lovely experience to part of it with the young rangatahi so it was a very special moment."
The U.S. Department of State issued a congratulatory statement on the anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi. Secretary John Kerry, also speaking on behalf of President Barack Obama, wished "the citizens of New Zealand a joyous celebration as you reflect and come together as a nation on this Waitangi Day. We look forward to deepening our friendship over the coming year."
[The New Zealand Herald]