Away from the official commemorations at Waitangi, it was a sea of colour on and off the water, as people from near and far converged on the historic landmark.

The waka display is still a major highlight of the day and organiser Stan Conrad says they are carrying on the traditions of their ancestors.

“They carry a lot on their shoulders because they're carrying their tūpuna, their whānau, everyone that's been involved in the kaupapa and it's a big thing for these fellas.”

He also says it’s the fulfilment of lots of training on and land on the waters of Waitangi.

“It's up to the kaihautū, they're the ones that train and make sure the salute is to what they're expected to be. The haka alone is another one where I'm doing the mass haka on the beach. It's just the thing that they've been practising all of last night and early hours this morning and they've been doing that since they arrived which was the first.”

Waka captain Waimirirangi Conrad adds it’s not only a tradition for men but women are also involved.

“I was very proud and it was a very humbling moment. It's always been a part of me, waka. My grandparents have always been there so for me to represent my whānau and my iwi and stand on there is a very proud moment.”

From the shore to the stalls there is a feeling of joy and celebration amongst the many that have come here to Waitangi this year.

But some were still feeling disappointed about the PM not making a visit to Te Tii.

However, there are certainly more people who enjoyed Waitangi than those who felt sad about the new arrangements making this day a success.

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