Inside Waitangi Treaty Grounds, New Zealand

The historic meeting place of European settlers and Maori chiefs

By CyArk

CyArk

Waitangi Meeting House by CyArkCyArk

Introducing the Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Waitangi, located in the Bay of Islands of New Zealand, is best known for being the location of the signing of both the Treaty of Waitangi and the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand. This treaty is considered the founding document of New Zealand, and the site preserves the land and several meeting houses that were built to celebrate the conception of New Zealand and Maori independence.

Flag pole illuminated at night at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (2017) by CyArkCyArk

Historic Context

On February 5th, 1840, over three hundred different Māori and European representatives met on the lawn of James Busby's home to discuss the treaty of Waitangi and the sovereignty of the nation of New Zealand. Signed the next day by those in attendance, the treaty recognizes Maori ownership of lands, forests, and other possessions, and gives Maori the rights of British subjects. The treaty was written in both English and Maori, as to not ignore the wishes of the Maori people. James Busby's residence was renamed as the 'Treaty House' and a Māori meeting house was built alongside it to celebrate the conception of independence.

Inside the meeting house in Waitangi by CyArkCyArk

Waitangi Treaty Grounds Today

Today the site of Waitangi is a hot spot for tourists and locals alike, and there are many educational opportunities that are promoted by the site authority, Waitangi National Trust. The site includes a museum and gardens that showcase native plants and cultural art and artifacts. The centers feature traditional Maori performances and carving studios. There are celebrations every year that occur at the site to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Different interpretations of the treaty have been debated throughout time, and there have been many protests performed by Māori asking for the terms of the treaty to be upheld today. There are current efforts to study the treaty and interpret its meaning in modern New Zealand in order to uphold and honor the original terms. Today more than 2000 claims have been filed with the Waitangi Tribunal in complaint of breaches of the treaty. 

War Canoe Drawings from Waitangi Meeting Grounds by CyArkCyArk

Ngātokimatawhaorua

The waka house on the site shelters the world's largest ceremonial war canoe. The name of the canoe comes from a traditional story from the Ngāpuhi tribe which resides near the treaty grounds. According to their legend, Ngātokimatawhaorua was the name of the migratory canoe that created their tribe. Work began on the canoe in 1937, in anticipation for the centennial commemoration for the Treaty of Waitangi. The canoe itself is 35 meters long, weighs six tons when dry, twelve tons when in water, and requires at least seventy-six individuals to row it. 

CyArk scanning the ceremonial war canone, Ngatokimatawhaorua by CyArkCyArk

Expedition Overview

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds were documented by CyArk in December 2017 using a combination of terrestrial and aerial photogrammetry and LiDAR laser scanning. Documentation was completed on the entire site extents with higher fidelity capture at the Te Whare Rūnanga (the carved meeting house), the Treaty House as well as the Ngātokimatawhaorua (the ceremonial war canoe). The data will be used by the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in ongoing management and promotion of the site. The work at Waitangi was completed through generous support from Air New Zealand.  

Waitangi war canoe (2017) by CyArkCyArk

Additional Resources

For more information on this site, its history and additional resources relating to CyArk’s work please visit

CyArk Waitangi Resources.

Credits: Story

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This project was made possible through the generous support of Air New Zealand and the following partners:

Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Museum

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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