Yesterday, 178 years ago, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in Auckland.

Apihai Te Kawau signed the document on behalf of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, heralding the development of Auckland as the country's biggest city.   

Yesterday Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei gathered to celebrate the work of their forebears.

Tama Davis, a member of the Whai Māia board says they are remembering the past to ring in the future.

“He maumahara i te wā i tohatoha a Apihai Te Kawau ētahi o ō tātou whenua ki tā tātou whanaunga mā Ingarangi. E kuhu mai i waenganui i a tātou hei hīkoi tahi ai tātou i roto i te ao hurihui.”

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust Limited’s Sharon Hawke says it was also a day of acknowledging their union with the Crown which was initiated 178 years ago.

“For us, meaningful relationships are what count and in order for us to remain strong we need to reflect back to the leadership of the past.”

Hawke also says Apihai Te Kawau was the chief that led the iwi during this time when the iwi owned about 80,000 acres of land prior to signing the treaty.

“Strategically he invited Governor Hobson to make Tāmaki Makaurau his capital. And with him comes his militia, his constabulary which would act as a buffer between any threat that there might be. With the advent of the building of the city, we were down to a quarter of an acre. And when people are oppressed, they rise.”

Hawke adds the iwi want to strive for excellence in everything they do.

“Our job is to manaaki, we are the tangata whenua our job is to make sure that everyone that comes to our shore knows who we are so we can suss out who they are and if they bring with them good things for the rest of the communities of Auckland.”

No doubt we will keep seeing the fruition of their work.