An International Students Guide to Waitangi Day 2020

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

This is our guide to events and other activities that you can do during Waitangi Day for international students. For more information on what the Treaty is actually about, please view our blog: 5 Things to Know about Waitangi Day for International Students.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi) was signed on the 6th of February 1840 and is New Zealand’s founding document. This will be the 180th year since the document was signed. Every year we come together on this day and commemorate the occasion. The day is a time for reflection on the Treaty and its place in modern New Zealand. A yearly reminder of the meeting of the British Crown and Māori Chiefs signing a treaty in the Bay of Islands that saw Aotearoa become New Zealand and part of the British Empire. It is also a public holiday, so there is no school or work on the day.

On Thursday 6th of February 2020 New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, like so many before her, will arrive at Waitangi and make her way to the upper marae at the Treaty grounds, along with thousands of others. The free festival starts at 5am with a Dawn Service in Te Whare Rūnanga (Carved Meeting House). There are over a hundred market stalls and all-day entertainment for all attendees throughout the day across multiple areas (Upper Treaty Grounds, Main Stage, Waka Stage and Sports Field Area). You can find the full day programme here.

If you can’t make it to Waitangi for the festival, then there are many other events that you can attend that take place across the country:

  • Visit Waikato Museum, 1 Grantham St, Hamilton, Waikato from 10am to 4pm on Waitangi Day for performances, tours, storytelling, crafts and more. Come to this free event to learn more about the significance of the Tiriti o Waitangi.


  • Waitangi at Waititi, a free Waitangi Day event in the heart of West Auckland, featuring musical performances from Katchafire, Ardijah, 1814, Troy Kingi, Rei, Pieter T & Deach, Che Fu and the Krates, Foundation, Howie Morrison JNR and Dj Rocky Ponting. Held at Hoani Waititi Marae, 451 West Coast Road, Glen Eden. The day starts with a pōwhiri (welcome ceremony) at 9am.
  • Waitangi ki Manukau, Hayman Park in Manukau. This year the Auckland Council is teaming up with the Manukau Urban Māori Authority to bring an awesome line up of music to the stage, including Three Houses Down & General Fiyah, Aaradhna, Sammy J, La Coco and others.


  • iStudent Complaints will be at Wellington’s premier Waitangi Day commemoration, at Te Rauparaha Park, Norrie Street, Porirua. This is one of the largest events that takes place across the country that commemorates New Zealand’s national day.


  • Waitangi Day Festival in Victoria Square. This is located on the Cnr Colombo and Armagh Streets. The event runs from 10am to 4pm and will have waka rides, arts and crafts, live entertainment and Kapa Haka performances.


  • Kāi Tahu whānui at Ōtākou hosts Dunedin’s 2020 commemoration of the signing of te Tiriti o Waitangi on 6 February. The theme ‘Waitohu’ acknowledges the signatories who signed te Tiriti on behalf of Kāi Tahu. The event runs from 10am to 3pm.
  • If you’d prefer to learn more about the history of the Treaty, visit Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, 31 Queens Garden, Dunedin, Otago and take the Waitangi Day Tour (10:15am – 11:30am).

If you can’t make a Waitangi Day event and still aren’t sure what you can do to commemorate the occasion, we recommend;

Who are iStudent Complaints and what can we help you with?
iStudent Complaints is an independent dispute resolution scheme established by the New Zealand Government. Our objective is to encourage swift settlement of contractual and financial disputes between international students and their providers in New Zealand. As an independent and impartial service, we are not affiliated with any Education providers.

Why did we do this blog?
Even if we need to step in one day to help you resolve a dispute, we want you to enjoy studying and living in our amazing country as much as we do. To that end, we’ve created this content so that you may continue to explore and experience the best New Zealand can offer.