Hundreds gather at dawn.
Waitangi Day started off beautifully this morning as hundreds attended the annual service at Te Whare Rūnanga marae.
This year’s turnout was the biggest yet, with more than 1000 people estimated to have gathered inside the wharenui and on the marae ātea.
As the sun rose, darkness turned to light and people sat in peace to listen to the kōrero of some of the country’s leaders.
More than 1000 people gathered inside the wharenui and on the marae ātea during the service.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke in te reo Māori and English while she read from an extract from the Book of Celtic Wisdom by John Donahue.
“May we awaken to the mystery of being here today at Waitangi and enter the quiet immensity of our own presence,” the Prime Minister said.
“Let us together respond to the call of our own gift and find the courage to follow its path. May our eyes never lose sight of why we have come here today and may we know the wisdom of deep listening.”
People from as far away as Canada, the Netherlands and Australia watched Te Kāea’s live Facebook coverage of the service.
“When kindness and compassion leads the way peace follows,” Facebook user Hiria Anderson wrote following the Prime Minister’s speech.
The live video captured the voices of hundreds of people singing waiata. It also showed the stunning view as orange, yellow and pink filled the horizon when the sun came up.
“This is beautiful,” wrote Facebook user Matekitawhiti Tangitu.
“Soul food to start the day,” wrote Otene Reweti.
Orange, yellow and pink fill the horizon.
Hundreds more are expected to attend the celebrations at Waitangi today to watch the activities, including the annual Navy gun salute from HMNZS Canterbury at midday. There will also be band and kapa haka performances throughout the day.