1 Dec 2021

Waitangi Day events for 2022 cancelled

3:37 pm on 1 December 2021

Events to commemorate Waitangi Day at the treaty grounds in February next year have been cancelled.

No caption

Waitangi Day commemoration in 2021. (File image) Photo: RNZ/Samuel Rillstone

The Waitangi National Trust said because of Covid-19, it would be practically impossible to safely proceed with events, which normally attract crowds of up to 40,000 people.

Trust chairman Pita Tipene said the decision was not taken lightly, but the health and safety of visitors, staff, and the local community was paramount.

The trust would work with broadcasters to deliver a virtual Waitangi Day experience, Tipene said.

In a statement, Minister of Māori Crown Relations Kelvin Davis said the government supported the trust's decision.

"I expect members of parliament, ministers and the prime minister will still play a key role in virtual elements on the day and we will work with the Waitangi National Trust on what this looks like."

There would, however, be other parts of the country that would be able to celebrate the day in-person, Davis said.

The Covid-19 Protection Framework had assisted the Trust in their decision-making, he said.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the cancellation reflected the vaccination rates in Northland.

The decision matched the mood among northern iwi leaders, he said.

"There is a degree of realism amongst iwi leaders about the scale of the challenge that they have ahead of them to get those vaccination rates up. There is more misinformation up there, by far the highest concentration of misinformation in the country if I could be as bold to make that claim."

Hipkins is standing by a decision to let unvaccinated people with a negative Covid-19 test travel to the region this summer.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs