4 Feb 2010

Record crowd expected at Waitangi on Saturday

2:13 pm on 4 February 2010

Waitangi Day organisers are preparing for a record turnout at the annual commemorations in the Bay of Islands on Saturday.

2010 is officially the Year of the Waka, and 25 waka and 3000 paddlers and support crew members will journey to the grounds.

The diplomatic corps will also be at Waitangi for the first time since 1995, when there was uproar over the Government's plan to cap Treaty settlements.

Some protesters spat at dignitaries and bared their behinds in a gesture of contempt.

The diplomatic corps will be welcomed onto the Waitangi marae with the Prime Minister and MPs on Friday morning.

Te Tii Waitangi marae elder Kingi Taurua says the return of the diplomats is a major step and should erase the memory of their last visit.

Biggest waka fleet for more than a century

Waitangi weekend will see the biggest waka fleet in New Zealand waters for more than a century.

It's the 70th birthday of the big Waitangi war canoe Nga-toki-mata-whao-rua. Built for the centennial Treaty celebrations in 1940, it's

back on the water after several years, having had an extensive makeover.

Master waka builder Hek Busby says as many as 25 canoes will be at Waitangi to celebrate the Year of the Waka and Ngatoki's relaunch.