We're lucky enough to live about 15 minutes away from Waitangi, so we've been to the celebrations a few times, but not for a while now, so we decided to get up at 3.30am and head over for the dawn service, then stay as long as we could before we needed to be back for the dogs.
This is the meeting house at Waitangi, at about 4.30am. People are already arriving for the service.
John Key arriving.
A sneaky wee pic of the inside of the Meeting House before the service began.
The service was good, but not quite as uplifting as it was the last time. Still worth going to at least once in your life, though!
The Prime Minister, John Key was there as were other party leaders.
The sun about to raise over the flagpole at Waitangi. As an aside this was the only place we saw a New Zealand flag flying. I think it's perhaps time for a new one that means something to the whole country.
After that there's not a whole lot going on until about 8.30am so from around 6am there's a lot of hanging around, wrapped up in a blanket, drinking coffee and watching the sun come up.
John Key, running to his next interview!
Wrapped warmly in my blanket!
Feeling a little sleepy - and no, I didn't have time to brush my hair at 3.30am!
By about 830am, there are hundreds of stalls coming to life and lots going on at the marae at Te Tii.
We sat down at Te Tii and vegged in the sun for a while and one of the Maori elders, Rihari, a Ngapuhi Kaumatua came over and welcomed us ( we really were the only non Maori people there at the time!) He chatted with us about the modern meaning of the treaty and life in general. He was totally lovely and before he left he welcomed each of us with a Hongi, which absolutely made my day!
The carvings down at Te Tii Marae
Then somewhere between 9 and 10am the total highlight of the day - the Wakas come in. This is one of the most amazing spectacles ever. Helped yesterday by the stunning weather.
Each crew chants in time with the oars ( or to keep the oars in time!) and the noise and everything is just breath taking!
We've decided we're now going to go back every year for this alone. It was totally awesome.
The Wakas out in the Bay
Some of the crowds
We got home about 10.30am - exhausted!
I can't wait for next year, though!