Treaty grounds closed to public on Waitangi Day

By Will Trafford

The Treaty grounds at Waitangi will be closed to the public on the national holiday following expert advice that policing restrictions on gatherings under Covid-19 traffic light setting red, would be more or less impossible.

The closure follows a previous decision to cancel all in-person events at the marae, and partner with broadcasters to produce a virtual Waitangi Day experience.

“We appreciate that many people want to gather at Waitangi on Waitangi Day, our national day. However, we are in the middle of a global pandemic,” Waitangi National Trust chair Pita Tipene says.

He says even if the trust had the people power to check vaccine passports, capacity limits of just 100 at one time would mean many would be left out.

Breaching the public health order would be"totally irresponsible, not to mention unlawful" and the trustees were not willing to put the public at risk.

“With the Omicron variant now in the community and expected to spread quickly, we cannot proceed as if everything was normal," he said

“I encourage New Zealanders to commemorate Waitangi Day 2022 in their own homes and in their own communities - as many have always done."