Jan 312018

Today is the birthday (1872) of Pearl Zane Grey, US author (and dentist), best known for his popular adventure novels and stories associated with the Western genre in literature and the arts. Riders of the Purple Sage (1912) was his best-selling book. In addition to the commercial success of his printed works, they had second lives and continuing influence when adapted as films and television productions. His novels and short stories have been adapted into 112 films, two television episodes, and a television series, Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater.

Grey was born in Zanesville, Ohio. His birth name may have originated from newspaper descriptions of Queen Victoria’s mourning clothes as “pearl grey.” He was the fourth of five children born to Alice “Allie” Josephine Zane, whose English Quaker immigrant ancestor Robert Zane migrated to the North American colonies in 1673, and her husband, Lewis M. Gray, a dentist. His family changed the spelling of their last name to “Grey” after his birth. Later Grey dropped Pearl and used Zane as his first name. He grew up in Zanesville, a city founded by his maternal great-grandfather Ebenezer Zane, an American Revolutionary War patriot, and from an early age, he was intrigued by history. Grey developed interests in fishing, baseball, and writing, all of which contributed to his writing success. His first three novels recounted the heroism of ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary War.

As a child, Grey frequently engaged in violent brawls even though they resulted in frequent beatings from his father. Grey found a father figure in Muddy Miser, an old man who approved of Grey’s love of fishing and writing, and who talked about the advantages of an unconventional life. Despite warnings by Grey’s father to steer clear of Miser, Grey spent considerable time during five formative years in the company of the old man.

Grey was an avid reader of adventure stories such as Robinson Crusoe and the Leatherstocking Tales, as well as dime novels featuring Buffalo Bill and Deadwood Dick. He was enthralled by and crudely copied the great illustrators Howard Pyle and Frederic Remington. He was particularly impressed with Our Western Border, a history of the Ohio frontier that likely inspired his earliest novels. He wrote his first story, “Jim of the Cave,” when he was 15. His father tore it to shreds and beat him. Both Zane and his brother Romer were active, athletic boys who were enthusiastic baseball players and fishermen.

Due to shame from a severe financial setback in 1889 caused by a poor investment, Lewis Grey moved his family from Zanesville and started again in Columbus, Ohio. While his father struggled to re-establish his dental practice, Zane Grey made rural house calls and performed basic extractions, which his father had taught him. The younger Grey practiced until the state board intervened. He also played summer baseball for the Columbus Capitols, with aspirations of becoming a major league player. Eventually, he was spotted by a baseball scout and received offers from many colleges.

Grey chose the University of Pennsylvania on a baseball scholarship, where he studied dentistry. When he arrived at Penn, he had to prove himself worthy of a scholarship before receiving it. He rose to the occasion by coming in to pitch against the Riverton club, pitching five scoreless innings and producing a double in the tenth which contributed to the win. Grey was a solid hitter and an excellent pitcher who relied on a sharply dropping curve ball. When the distance from the pitcher’s mound to the plate was lengthened by ten feet in 1894 (primarily to reduce the dominance of Cy Young’s pitching), the effectiveness of Grey’s pitching suffered. He was re-positioned to the outfield but remained a campus hero on the strength of his hitting.

He was an indifferent scholar, barely achieving a minimum average. Outside class he spent his time on baseball, swimming, and creative writing, especially poetry. Grey struggled with the idea of becoming a writer or baseball player for his career but concluded that dentistry was the practical choice. He went on to play minor league baseball with several teams, including the Newark, New Jersey Colts in 1898 and also with the Orange Athletic Club for several years.

After graduating, Grey established his practice in New York City under the name of Dr. Zane Grey in 1896. It was a competitive area but he wanted to be close to publishers. He began to write in the evening to offset the tedium of his dental practice. Whenever possible, he played baseball with the Orange Athletic Club in New Jersey.

Grey often went camping with his brother in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania, where they fished in the upper Delaware River. When canoeing in 1900, Grey met 17-year-old Lina Roth, better known as “Dolly”. Dolly came from a family of physicians and was studying to be a schoolteacher. After a passionate and intense courtship marked by frequent quarrels, Grey and Dolly married 5 years later in 1905. Grey suffered bouts of depression, anger, and mood swings, which affected him most of his life. During his courtship of Dolly, Grey still saw previous girlfriends and warned her frankly,

But I love to be free. I cannot change my spots. The ordinary man is satisfied with a moderate income, a home, wife, children, and all that…. But I am a million miles from being that kind of man and no amount of trying will ever do any good… I shall never lose the spirit of my interest in women.

After they married in 1905, Dolly gave up her teaching career. They moved to a farmhouse at the confluence of the Lackawaxen and Delaware rivers, in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania, where Grey’s mother and sister joined them. (This house, now preserved and operated as the Zane Grey Museum, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.) I used to visit quite often because Lackawaxen is on the old Delaware and Hudson canal as was the house where I lived, and both my village and Lackawaxen were sites of suspension aqueducts built by John Roebling before he designed the Brooklyn Bridge.

While Dolly managed Grey’s career and raised their three children over the next two decades, Grey often spent months away from the family. He fished, wrote, and spent time with his many mistresses. While Dolly knew of his behavior, she tolerated it. In addition to her considerable editorial skills, she had good business sense and handled all his contract negotiations with publishers, agents, and movie studios. All his income was split 50-50 with her. From her half she covered all family expenses. Their considerable correspondence shows evidence of his lasting love for her despite his infidelities and personal emotional turmoil.

With the help of Dolly’s proofreading and copy editing, Grey gradually improved his writing. His first magazine article, “A Day on the Delaware,” a human-interest story about a Grey brothers’ fishing expedition, was published in the May 1902 issue of Recreation magazine. Around this time, Grey read Owen Wister’s Western novel The Virginian. After studying its style and structure in detail, he decided to write a full-length work. Grey had difficulties in writing his first novel, Betty Zane (1903). The novel dramatized the heroism of an ancestor who had saved Fort Henry. When it was rejected by Harper & Brothers, he lapsed into despair and self-published it, probably with money borrowed from family.

After attending a lecture in New York in 1907 by Charles Jesse “Buffalo” Jones, western hunter and guide who had co-founded Garden City, Kansas, Grey arranged for a mountain lion-hunting trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. He took along a camera to document his trips and also began the habit of taking copious notes, not only of scenery and activities, but also of dialogue. He gained the confidence to write convincingly about the American West, its characters, and its landscape. Treacherous river crossings, unpredictable beasts, bone-chilling cold, searing heat, parching thirst, bad water, irascible tempers, and heroic cooperation all became real to him.

Upon returning home in 1909, Grey wrote a new novel, The Last of the Plainsmen, describing the adventures of Buffalo Jones. Harper’s editor Ripley Hitchcock rejected it, the fourth work in a row. He told Grey, “I do not see anything in this to convince me you can write either narrative or fiction.” Grey wrote dejectedly,

I don’t know which way to turn. I cannot decide what to write next. That which I desire to write does not seem to be what the editors want… I am full of stories and zeal and fire… yet I am inhibited by doubt, by fear that my feeling for life is false.

I know the feeling. I’d estimate I have had close to 100 rejection letters from publishers. It’s depressing, but you either keep trying or give up.

With the birth of his first child pending, Grey felt compelled to complete his next novel, The Heritage of the Desert. He wrote it in four months in 1910. It quickly became a bestseller. Two years later Grey produced his best-known book, Riders of the Purple Sage (1912), his all-time best-seller, and one of the most successful Western novels of all time. After that Harper eagerly received all his manuscripts.

The Greys moved to California in 1918. In 1920 they settled in Altadena, California, where Grey bought a prominent mansion on East Mariposa Street.  By this time Grey had both the time and money to engage in his great passion for fishing. From 1918 until 1932, he was a regular contributor to Outdoor Life magazine. He kept a cabin in Oregon, and also began deep-see fishing in Florida, and later in Australia and New Zealand (where his fishing lodge is still a popular tourist destination), and also regularly in Tahiti.

Zane Grey died of heart failure on October 23, 1939, at his home in Altadena, California. He was interred at the Lackawaxen and Union Cemetery, Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania.

There is a Zane Grey Cookbook which you’d think had recipes from Grey’s notes, or memories of dishes he’d cooked around the campfire. Not so. The only thing Zane Grey about the book is the title. The recipes in it are collections of ideas for dishes he might have enjoyed. On the other hand, I used to live on the Neversink River, a tributary of the Delaware where Grey fished, and a well-known fly-fishing spot. The Delaware and tributaries are legendary spots for brook trout. Brook trout is one of the best fish to grill or pan fry when caught fresh. For me, it depended on whether I had my fire pit cranked up or not, whether I grilled it over wood coals or pan fried it. It’s best over coals, but a bit of a chore if you have only one fish.

If you have a fish that was just caught, as I often did, preparation is very simple. There are no heavy scales to remove. You need a good sharp, pointed knife. Slit the belly open from just below the throat to the base of the tail. Slice through the meat only so that you do not pierce any of the guts. Insert a finger in the slit and remove the intestines, stomach, and other entrails. Then wash the cavity in running water, and pat the fish dry, inside and out, with paper towels.

Depending on the size of the fish it will cook in only a few minutes as long as the pan or grill is good and hot before you start cooking. When using my cast-iron skillet, I rubbed it with a paper towel moistened with olive oil, and then heated it to smoking and laid in the fish. About 3 minutes on one side was enough, then turn and cook it on the other side. You have to be a little careful turning the fish because it can break easily. I used a very wide spatula. For fire grilling, they make special grilling baskets that are hinged, so that the fish is secured inside, and you can flip it simply by turning the whole basket over by the handles.

You can put lemon slices and/or fresh herbs and butter in the cavity before cooking, but I never used to. Brook trout has an interesting, delicate flavor that I am happy to eat without any additional flavorings. When I cooked outdoors I would also grill some corn on the cob to go along with the fish. There are many ways to do this, but I used to shuck the corn completely, then wrap it in foil smeared with butter.

Oct 192016


In a document dated 19 October 1901, the “King” and Chiefs of Niue consented to “Queen Victoria taking possession of this island.” A dispatch to the Secretary of State for the Colonies from the Governor of New Zealand referred to the views expressed by the Chiefs in favor of “annexation” and to this document as “the deed of cession.” A British Protectorate was declared, but it was short-lived because Niue had already been brought within the boundaries of New Zealand on 11 June 1901 by the same Order and Proclamation that annexed the Cook Islands. The Order limited the islands to which it related by reference to an area in the Pacific described by co-ordinates, and Niue (19.02 S., 169.55 W) is within that area. So here we have a colonial paradox well worth exploring more fully. Niue is a rare case of a sovereign state willing to be annexed as a colony of an imperial nation, even though that willingness was largely irrelevant to what had already taken place.


Niue was settled by Polynesians from Samoa around 900 CE. Further settlers arrived from Tonga in the 16th century. Until the beginning of the 18th century, there was no national government or national leader on the island. Chiefs and heads of families exercised authority over segments of the population. Around 1700, the concept and practice of kingship appear to have been introduced through contact with the Tongan settlers. A succession of patu-iki (kings) ruled thereafter, the first of whom was Puni-mata. Tui-toga, who reigned from 1875 to 1887, was the first Christian king.

The first European to sight Niue was Captain James Cook in 1774. He made three attempts to land but was refused permission to do so by the inhabitants. He named the island “Savage Island” because, as legend has it, the natives who “greeted” him were painted in what appeared to be blood. The coloring on their teeth was hulahula, a native red banana. For the next couple of centuries, Niue was known as Savage Island until its original name, Niuē, which translates as “behold the coconut,” regained use.

The next notable European visitors were from the London Missionary Society, who arrived in 1846 on the “Messenger of Peace.” After many years of trying to settle a European mission, a Niuean named Nukai Peniamina was taken to Samoa and trained as a Pastor at the Malua Theological College. Peniamina returned as a missionary with the help of Toimata Fakafitifonua. He was finally allowed to settle in Uluvehi Mutalau after a number of attempts in other villages had failed. The chiefs of Mutalau village allowed him to stay and assigned over 60 warriors to protect him day and night at the fort in Fupiu.


Christianity was first taught to the Mutalau people before it was spread to all the villages, many of which had originally opposed the introduction of Christianity and had sought to kill Peniamina. The people from the village of Hakupu, although the last village to receive Christianity, came and asked for a “word of god,” hence, their village was renamed “Ha Kupu Atua” meaning “any word of god”, or “Hakupu” for short.

In 1889, the chiefs and rulers of Niue, in a letter to Queen Victoria, asked her “to stretch out towards us your mighty hand, that Niue may hide herself in it and be safe.” After expressing anxiety lest some other nation should take possession of the island, the letter continued: “We leave it with you to do as seems best to you. If you send the flag of Britain that is well; or if you send a Commissioner to reside among us, that will be well.” The offer was not initially taken up by the British. In 1900 a petition by the Cook Islanders asking for annexation included Niue “if possible.” Therefore the separate petition by Niue was unnecessary and the annexation of the Cook Islands included Niue. Of course, Niue and the Cook Islands did not want to be colonies but saw the writing on the wall. All of the South Pacific was being swallowed up by colonial powers which the various islands were unable to resists. So, Niue and the Cook Islands decided to take control of the situation and choose their colonial master rather than having one chosen for them.


Self-government was granted to Nuie by the New Zealand parliament in 1974 constitution, following a referendum in 1974 whereby Niueans were given three options: independence, self-government, or continuation as a New Zealand territory. The majority selected self-government and Niue’s written constitution was promulgated as law. Robert Rex, ethnically part European, part native, was appointed the first premier, a position he held until his death 18 years later. Rex was the first Niuean to receive a knighthood, in 1984.


Niue is one of the world’s largest coral islands. The terrain consists of steep limestone cliffs along the coast with a central plateau rising to about 60 metres above sea level. A coral reef surrounds the island, with the only major break in the reef being in the central western coast, close to the capital, Alofi. A notable feature is the number of limestone caves found close to the coast.


The island is roughly oval in shape (with a diameter of about 18 kilometers), with two large bays indenting the western coast, Alofi Bay in the centre and Avatele Bay in the south. Between these is the promontory of Halagigie Point. A small peninsula, TePā Point (Blowhole Point), is close to the settlement of Avatele in the southwest. Most of the population resides close to the west coast, around the capital, and in the northwest.


Some of the soils are geochemically very unusual. They are extremely highly weathered tropical soils, with high levels of iron and aluminium oxides (oxisol) and mercury, and they contain high levels of natural radioactivity. There is almost no uranium, but the radionucleides Th-230 and Pa-231 head the decay chains. This is the same distribution of elements as found naturally on very deep seabeds, but the geochemical evidence suggests that the origin of these elements is extreme weathering of coral and brief sea submergence 120,000 years ago. Endothermal upwelling, by which mild volcanic heat draws deep seawater up through the porous coral, may also contribute.


Agriculture is very important to the Niuean economy, and around 204 square kilometers of the land area are available for agriculture. Subsistence agriculture is very much part of Niue’s culture, where nearly all the households have plantations of taro. Taro is a staple food, and the pink taro now dominant in the taro markets in New Zealand and Australia is established as an intellectual property of Niue. This is one of the naturally occurring taro varieties on Niue, and has a strong resistance to pests. The Niue taro is known in Samoa as “talo Niue” and in international markets as pink taro. Niue exports taro to New Zealand. Tapioca or cassava, yams and kumara also grow very well,[45] as do different varieties of bananas. Coconut, meat, passionfruit, and limes dominated exports in the 1970s, but by 2008 vanilla, noni and taro were the main export crops.

Most families grow their own food crops for subsistence and sell their surplus at the Niue Makete in Alofi, or export to their families in New Zealand. Coconut crab, or uga, is also part of the food chain; it lives in the forest and coastal areas. In 2003, the government made a commitment to develop and expand vanilla production with the support of NZAID. Vanilla has grown wild on Niue for a long time. Despite the setback caused by the devastating Cyclone Heta in early 2004, work on vanilla production continues. The expansion plan started with the employment of the unemployed or underemployed labor force to help clear land, plant supporting trees and plant vanilla vines. The approach to accessing land includes planning to have each household plant a small plot of around half to 1-acre (0.40 ha) to be cleared and planted with vanilla vines. There are a lot of planting materials for supporting trees to meet demand for the expansion of vanilla plantations, but a severe shortage of vanilla vines for planting stock. There are of course the existing vanilla vines, but cutting them for planting stock will reduce or stop the vanilla from producing beans. At the moment, the focus is in the areas of harvesting and marketing.

Current plantations are mostly filled with manioc, taro and breadfruit, but banana trees can be found. The wide range of exotic plants in Niue includes taros, papayas, coconuts, bananas, yams, cassavas and breadfruits, and all are intensively used in the local cuisine. The most significant ingredient in Niue’s recipes are fish and vegetables. Fish is eaten roasted, grilled, raw, and in soups or stews. Main fish species include tuna (ahi), dolphinfish (mahi mahi), parrot fish (pakati), barracuda (ono), coconut crabs and crayfish.


Nane Pia is one of the few food specialties of the island. It is a translucent porridge made from arrowroot and coconut, and has a thick slimy texture. This is exactly the kind of dish I really don’t like partly because of the bland taste and partly because of the texture. Niue arrowroot is Maranta arundinacea which grows abundantly, and the rhizome is used to make a starchy flour. Arrowroot flour is reasonably easily obtained in Western health food markets. I use it as a thickening agent, but it can be made into puddings. I don’t have a recipe for Nane Pia, but this one that I have concocted will work even though it is not authentic. It makes two or three servings, and is meant to just give you the proportions and the idea. On Niue Nane Pia is a staple eaten with fish and other vegetables. Westerners would probably like it better as a pudding which would mean adding a little sugar.

Nane Pia


2 tbsp arrowroot flour


1 tbsp grated coconut


Put the 2 tablespoons of arrowroot and 100ml of cold water in a bowl. Whisk thoroughly to form a batter and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of water over medium heat in a pan and add the coconut. Simmer and stir for a few minutes, then turn off the heat.

Boil 100ml of water in a separate pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the arrowroot batter and the coconut. Simmer the mixture very slowly, stirring constantly until it has thickened.

If it were me, the next step would be to throw it out and eat something else. If you have got this far and are still interested, serve the porridge warm in a bowl to accompany fish or vegetables. Alternatively you can sweeten with some cane sugar and serve it cold as a dessert.

Feb 062014


Today is Waitangi Day in New Zealand, named after the northern coastal site, Waitangi, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed – a significant day in the history of New Zealand. It is a public holiday held each year on 6th February to celebrate the signing of the treaty, New Zealand’s founding document, on that date in 1840. The treaty of Waitangi was signed in a marquee on the grounds of James Busby’s house (now known as the Treaty house) at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. The treaty made New Zealand a part of the British Empire, guaranteed Maori rights to their land and gave Maori the rights of British subjects. There are differences between the English version and the Maori translation of the treaty, and since 1840 this has led to debate over exactly what was agreed to at Waitangi. Maori have generally seen the treaty as a sacred pact, while for many years Pakeha (the Maori word for New Zealanders of predominantly European ancestry) ignored it. By the early twentieth century, however, some Pakeha were beginning to see the treaty as their nation’s founding document and a symbol of British humanitarianism. Unlike Maori, Pakeha have generally not seen the treaty as a document with binding power over the country and its inhabitants. In 1877 Chief Justice James Prendergast declared it to be a “legal nullity,” a position that was held until the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975, when it regained significant legal standing.

Prior to 1934, most celebrations of New Zealand’s founding as a colony were held on 29 January, the date on which William Hobson arrived in the Bay of Islands. In 1932, Governor-General Lord Bledisloe and his wife purchased and presented to the nation the run-down house of James Busby, where the treaty was signed. The Treaty House and grounds were made a public reserve, which was dedicated on 6th February 1934. This event is considered by some to be the first Waitangi Day, although celebrations were not yet held annually. At the time, it was the most representative meeting of Maori ever held. Attendees included the Maori king and thousands of Pakeha.


In 1940, another major event was held at the grounds, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the treaty signing. This was less well attended, partially because of the outbreak of World War II and partially because the government had recently offended the Maori king. However the event was still a success and helped raise the profile of the treaty.


Annual commemorations of the treaty signing began in 1947. The 1947 event was a Royal New Zealand Navy ceremony centering on a flagpole which the Navy had paid to have erected in the grounds. The ceremony was brief and featured no Maori. The following year, a Maori speaker was added to the line-up, and subsequent additions to the ceremony were made nearly every year. From 1952, the Governor General attended, and from 1958 the Prime Minister also attended, although not every year. From the mid-1950s, a Maori cultural performance was usually given as part of the ceremony. Many of these early features remain a part of Waitangi Day ceremonies, including a naval salute, the Maori cultural performance (now usually a ceremonial welcome), and speeches from a range of Maori and Pkeha dignitaries.

Waitangi Day was proposed as a public holiday by the New Zealand Labour Party in their 1957 party manifesto. After Labour won the election they were reluctant to create a new public holiday, so the Waitangi Day Act was passed in 1960 making it possible for a locality to substitute Waitangi Day as an alternative to an existing public holiday. In 1963, after a change in government, Waitangi Day was substituted for Auckland Anniversary Day as the provincial holiday in Northland. In 2013 it was decreed that the Waitangi Day public holiday would be shifted to Monday if it fell on the weekend.

In 1971 the Labour shadow minister of Maori Affairs, Matiu Rata, introduced a private member’s bill to make Waitangi Day a national holiday, to be called New Zealand Day. This was not passed into law. After the 1972 election of the third Labour government under Norman Kirk, it was announced that from 1974 Waitangi Day would be a national holiday known as New Zealand Day. The New Zealand Day Act 1973 was passed in 1973.

For Norman Kirk, the change was simply an acceptance that New Zealand was ready to move towards a broader concept of nationhood. Diplomatic posts had for some years marked the day, and it seemed timely in view of the country’s increasing role on the international stage that the national day be known as New Zealand Day. At the 1974 celebrations, the Flag of New Zealand was flown for the first time at the top of the flagstaff at Waitangi, rather than the Union Flag, and a replica of the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand was also flown.

The election of the third National government in 1975 led to the day being renamed Waitangi Day because the new Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, did not like the name “New Zealand Day” and many Maori felt the new name debased the Treaty of Waitangi. Another Waitangi Day Act was passed in 1976 to change the name of the day back to Waitangi Day.


Although this is New Zealand’s national day, the commemoration has often been the focus of protest by Maori activists and is often embroiled in controversy. From 1971, Waitangi and Waitangi Day became a focus of protest concerning treaty injustices, with Nga Tamatoa leading early protests. Activists initially called for greater recognition of the treaty, but by the early 1980s, protest groups were also arguing that the treaty was a fraud with which Pakeha had cheated Maori out of their land. Attempts were made by groups including the Waitangi Action Committee to halt the celebrations. This led to major confrontations between police and protesters, sometimes resulting in dozens of arrests. When the treaty gained greater official recognition in the mid-1980s, emphasis switched back to calls to honor the treaty, and protesters generally returned to the aim of raising awareness of the treaty and what they saw as its neglect by the state.

Some New Zealand politicians and commentators, such as Paul Holmes, have felt that Waitangi Day is too controversial to be a national day and have sought to replace it with Anzac Day (April 25th commemorating military campaigns). Others, for example the United Future Party’s Peter Dunne, have suggested that the name of the day be changed back to New Zealand Day.

Several hundred protesters often gather at Waitangi to reflect the long-standing frustrations Maori have held since the treaty’s signing. Although not part of the Government celebrations, Maori sovereignty activists often fly the Tino Rangatiratanga flag from the flagstaff. Attempts at vandalism of the flagstaff are often an objective of these protests, carrying on a tradition that dates from the 19th century when Hone Heke chopped down the British flagstaff in nearby Russell. In 2004, protesters succeeded in flying the Tino Rangatiratanga flag above the other flags on the flagstaff by flying it from the top of a nearby tree.

Because of the level of protest and threats that had previously occurred at Waitangi, the previous Prime Minister Helen Clark did not attend in 2000. The official celebrations were shifted from Waitangi to Wellington in 2001. Some Maori felt that this was an insult to them and to the treaty. In 2003 and 2004, the anniversary was again officially commemorated at the Treaty House at Waitangi. In 2004 Leader of the Opposition Don Brash was hit with mud as he entered the marae (sacred meeting place).

On 5 February 2009, the day before Waitangi Day, as current Prime Minister John Key was being escorted onto a marae, he was challenged by Wikitana and John Junior Popata, nephews of then Maori Party MP Hone Harawira. Both admitted to assault and were sentenced to 100 hours of community service. In 2011 Wikitana and John again heckled Key as he entered the marae. A wet t-shirt thrown at Queen Elizabeth II and other attacks on various Prime Ministers at Waitangi on 6 February have resulted in a large police presence as well as the large contingent of the armed forces.


Celebrations at Waitangi often commence the previous day, 5 February, at the Ngapuhi Te Tii marae, where political dignitaries are welcomed on to the marae and hear speeches from the local iwi (clan). These speeches often deal with the issues of the day, and vigorous and robust debate occurs. At dawn on Waitangi Day, the Royal New Zealand Navy raises the New Zealand Flag, Union Flag and White Ensign on the flagstaff in the treaty grounds. The ceremonies during the day generally include a church service and cultural displays such as dance and song. Several waka (canoes) and a navy ship also re-enact the calling ashore of Governor Hobson to sign the treaty. The day closes with the flags being lowered by the Navy in a traditional ceremony.

In recent years, communities throughout New Zealand have been celebrating Waitangi Day in a variety of ways. These often take the form of public concerts and festivals. Some marae use the day as an open day and an educational experience for their local communities, giving them the opportunity to experience Maori culture and protocol. Other marae use the day as an opportunity to explain where they see Maori are and the way forward for Maori in New Zealand. Another popular way of celebrating the day is at concerts held around the country. Since the day is also Bob Marley’s birthday, reggae music is especially popular. Wellington has a long running “One Love” festival that celebrates peace and unity. Another such event is “Groove in the Park,” held in the Auckland Domain before 2007 and at Western Springs subsequently. Celebrations are largely muted in comparison to those seen on the national days of most countries. There are no mass parades, nor truly widespread celebrations. As the day is a public holiday, and happens during the warmest part of the New Zealand summer, most people take the opportunity to spend the day at the beach.

In London, UK, which has one of the largest New Zealand expatriate populations, the occasion is celebrated by the Waitangi Day Ball, held by the New Zealand Society UK. The focus of the event is a celebration of New Zealand’s unity and diversity as a nation. The Ball also hosts the annual UK New Zealander of the Year awards, cultural entertainment from London based Maori group Ngati Ranana and fine wine and cuisine from New Zealand.


Another tradition has arisen in recent years to celebrate Waitangi Day. On the closest Saturday to 6 February, New Zealanders participate in a pub crawl using the London Underground’s Circle Line (the inner circle in yellow on the map). Although the stated aim is to have one drink at each of the 27 stops, most participants stop after a handful of stations, usually beginning at Paddington and moving anti-clockwise towards Temple. At 4 pm, a large-scale haka (traditional dance) is performed in Parliament Square as Big Ben marks the hour. Participants wear costumes and sing songs such as “God Defend New Zealand,” all of which is in stark contrast to the much more subdued observance of the day in New Zealand itself. Police estimate the number of ex-pats taking part in the pub crawl these days at between 10,000 and 12,000, causing major overcrowding on the underground, and the need to close roads around key gathering spots such as Parliament Square.

For Waitangi Day 2007, Air New Zealand commissioned a number of New Zealanders living in Los Angeles and Southern California to create a sand sculpture of a silver fern on the Santa Monica Beach.


At the Kingston Butter Factory in Kingston, Queensland, Australia, Te Korowai Aroha (Cloak of Love) Association have been holding Waitangi Day Celebrations since 2002, with an excess of 10,000 expats, Logan City Council representatives and indigenous Australians coming together to commemorate in a peaceful alcohol and drug free occasion.

On the Gold Coast, in Australia, where there is a large New Zealand expatriate population, Waitangi Day is celebrated by around 10,000 people at Carrara Stadium. It is called the “Waitangi Day and Pacific Islands Festival.” It not only embraces Waitangi day, but Pacific Islander culture. In 2009, iconic New Zealand bands Herbs and Ardijah featured, as well as local singers and performers.

New Zealand cuisine is largely driven by local ingredients and seasonal variations with ingredients from land and sea. The cuisine of New Zealand is a diverse, British-based cuisine, like that of Australia, with Mediterranean and Pacific Rim influences. Historical influences came from Maori culture. Contemporary North American cuisine, Southeast Asian, East Asian, and South Asian culinary traditions have become popular since the 1970s.

Present day Maori cuisine is a mixture of Maori tradition, old-fashioned English cookery, and contemporary dishes. Most large Maori gatherings feature a hangi, which is likely to contain foods brought to New Zealand by Maori and by Pakeha. Hangi is a traditional New Zealand Maori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven still used for special occasions, as throughout Polynesia. To “lay a hangi” or “put down a hangi” involves digging a pit in the ground, heating stones in the pit with a large fire, placing baskets of food on top of the stones, and covering everything with earth for several hours before uncovering (or lifting) the h?ngi. There are many variations and details that can be altered. Hangi experts have developed and improved methods that often, like the stones themselves, have been handed down for generations.


Two dishes regarded as distinctively Maori are the “boil-up” of pork, potatoes, assorted vegetables, and suet dumplings, and “pork and puha” (sow thistle) both of which combine introduced and indigenous foods. Both dishes owe much to nineteenth century British cooking methods. A simple method of cooking, a boil-up is literally the boiling of different ingredients in a large pot (usually a stockpot) together to create a cross between a soup and a stew. Traditional ingredients are pork bones, Sonchus (indigenous greens, usually the sow thistle), potato, pumpkin, watercress, and suet dumplings.  The cooking method is basic for any experienced cook – that is, simmer a good quantity of meaty pork bones in water or light stock for 2 hours, or until the broth is rich and the pork very tender.  Remove the meat from the bones (optional), return the meat to the pot with the vegetables of your choice and simmer for another 30 to 40 minutes.  In the last 20 minutes add the dumplings. The dumplings are simplicity itself, but I adore them in soups and stews and have done since I was a small boy. You can easily alter quantities depending on the number of guests.  They are a 2:1 ratio of self-raising flour to shredded suet.


Suet Dumplings


8 oz/200g self raising flour
4 oz/50g shredded suet
salt and pepper to taste


Combine the flour, suet, plus salt and pepper to taste in a mixing bowl, and mix thoroughly.  Hands work best, like making pastry.

Add 6 tablespoons of cold water a little at a time until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough.

Using floured hands shape the dough into balls.  Size is cook’s choice.  I make them about the size of a golf ball but I have also had them tennis ball sized.  Just remember that the bigger they are the longer they will take to cook.  Best to err on the side of overcooking than having a raw center. In fact, it is quite hard to really overcook them.  Golf ball size take about 20 minutes (with the pot covered).