Waitangi Dawn Service: 'Striving for better, holding hope for the future'

The national anthem rang out across the Waitangi Treaty Grounds while the sun rose, as more than 1000 people gathered this morning to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. 

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The Prime Minister addressed the crowd at Waitangi at this morning’s dawn service. Source: 1 NEWS

Waitangi Day commemorations began with politicians addressing the crowd gathered at the Upper Treaty Grounds, acknowledging Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there should be constant learning around the Treaty partnership, “striving to be better, holding hope for the future”. 

“Through conversation may we achieve understanding and knowledge,” Ardern said. 

"Blessed is Aotearoa, land of the southern seas, island of the Pacific filled with action, beauty, suffering, struggles and hope. Blessed are our people, Māori, Pakeha and everyone who calls our country home. Hardy, practical creators working towards a common purpose. 

"Blessed are our languages; Te Reo Māori, English, New Zealand Sign Language and all other languages spoken on this whenua. Through conversation may we achieve understanding and knowledge," Ardern said. 

"Today, we mark the Treaty of Waitangi – Te Tiriti o Waitangi, we acknowledge our partnership. Constantly learning, striving for better, holding hope for the future."

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The Opposition leader asked the crowd at Waitangi Day dawn service to “pray for our nation and people”. Source: 1 NEWS

Opposition leader Judith Collins asked those attending to “pray for our nation and our people”. 

“Let us be thankful for each other, for the lessons learned by our ancestors,” Collins said. 

“Let us also remember our history. Let us always look to our people.”

It comes as the new Māori land law, that comes into force today, would make it easier to develop housing on Māori land. 

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson said the change would see 1.4 million hectares of Māori freehold land able to be used by Māori to “utilise their land and participate in our economy more effectively”.

“Previously, Māori landowners have been hamstrung with unique challenges to developing their land,” he said in a statement. 

“These changes will promote the retention and use of Māori land and ensure decisions made about land are fair and balanced, taking into account the needs of all the owners and their beneficiaries.”

After the ceremony, a lone protestor yelled out against abortion.