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Paihia & Waitangi/New Zealand

Introducing Paihia & Waitangi

The birthplace of NZ (as opposed to Aotearoa), Waitangi inhabits a special, somewhat complex place in the national psyche – aptly demonstrated by the mixture of celebration, commemoration, protest and apathy that accompanies the nation’s birthday (Waitangi Day, 6 February).

It was here that the long-neglected and much-contested Treaty of Waitangi was first signed between Maori chiefs and the British Crown, establishing British sovereignty or something a bit like it, depending on whether you’re reading the English or Maori version of the document. If you’re interested in coming to grips with NZ’s history and race relations, this is the place to start.

Joined to Waitangi by a bridge, Paihia would be a fairly nondescript coastal town if it wasn’t the main entry point to the Bay of Islands. If you're not on a tight budget, do yourself a favour, get on a ferry and get thee to Russell, which is far nicer.

There are some good walks in the area, including an easy 5km track that follows the coast from Opua to Paihia.

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