Whaingaroa community invited to commemorate Waitangi Day at the Kokiri Centre

The Kokiri Centre will open its doors to the community to commemorate the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi on Wednesday, February 6.

Organised by Leah Forbes and Angeline Greensill, the open day starts at 10am with a traditional pōwhiri at the last entrance along Riria Kereopa Memorial Dr.

As well as treaty displays and talks at the Kokiri Waitangi event, there will also be fun activities for all the family – including food, kids’ events, face painting, local stalls and cultural activities.

Both women say the event is an opportunity for people to learn about the significance of the Waitangi Treaty to Whaingaroa – a look into the past as well as the future of treaty claims in the area.
Angeline’s mother Tuaiwa Eva Rickard played a key role throughout the 1970s to raise public awareness about Māori land rights and the Kokiri Centre is testament to her efforts to right the wrongs of the past.

The ancestral land the centre occupies was taken by the Government during WWII to use as a military airfield. Instead of handing the land back when it was no longer required for defence purposes a 62-acre block was turned into a public golf course in 1969.

Eva campaigned tirelessly to have the land returned and was arrested for trespass along with other Māori protesters on the ninth hole of the golf course. Her arrest and the subsequent court appearances set off a trail of events which finally saw the land returned.

With treaty claims yet to be resolved, Leah and Angeline hope the Waitangi event will help to provide some insight into longstanding issues in Whaingaroa.
“I see it as an opportunity for people to come and ask questions and commemorate the signing of the treaty. The west coast was an important area for treaty signings with descendants of treaty signatories still residing in Raglan,” Angeline says.

After the first signing at Waitangi by 43 chiefs on 6 February 1840, various versions – both in Māori and English – were taken round the country and signed by over 500 chiefs including a number of women. The only English version, signed by 39 rangatira, was at Port Waikato-Manukau. The English and Māori versions held different meanings creating challenges for the government in the settlement process even today.

For more information about contributing to the day or attending the event contact Leah on 027 420 5606 or leahandcody@xtra.co.nz.

Janine Jackson