Civic events  |  4 Feb 2020

Forty-seven people will become New Zealanders during this year’s Waitangi Day commemorations at Okains Bay.

A Christchurch City Council Citizenship Ceremony is being held as part of the annual family day event at the Okains Bay Māori and Colonial Museum on Thursday.

Following a pōwhiri in the museum courtyard, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel will welcome people from 14 different countries – including Ethiopia, Guatemala, Italy and Afghanistan - as they pledge allegiance to their new home.

Each individual or family group will be presented with a native tree during the ceremony. 

It has become practice to hold the first citizenship ceremony of the year on Waitangi Day due to the significance of the date in New Zealand's history. Last year's Waitangi Day citizenship ceremony was held at Ōnuku Marae near Akaroa.

Following the citizenship formalities, which include speeches, presentation of certificates and a group photo, the Waitangi Day event continues with a hāngi lunch and Ngāi Tahu Kōtukumairangi – ceremonial waka - being paddled up the Ōpara Stream.

Waitangi Day at Okains Bay is the largest celebration in the South Island and has a national profile. This is the 45th year the event has been held to commemorate the signing of  the Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi).

Activities this year include Rekindle workshops, a free tī kouka (cabbage tree) mat making workshop, and taonga puoro (Māori musical instruments) with Tony Smith.

Throughout the day there will be stalls, workshops and demonstrations of traditional skills such as basket making, blacksmithing and weaving. Activities for children include races, tug-o-war, and a lolly scramble.

This year there will also be a Waitangi Day selfie competition. Photos can be submitted to by Friday, 14 February to win a competition cup.