Between Anzac Day and Waitangi Day

Open access


This paper discusses the historical background and significance of the two most important national holidays in New Zealand: Waitangi Day and Anzac Day. Waitangi Day is celebrated on the 6th February and it commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between British representatives and a number of Māori chiefs in 1840. Following the signing of the treaty New Zealand became effectively a British colony. Anzac Day is celebrated on 25th April, i.e., on the anniversary of the landing of soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey in 1915, during World War One. There are three major differences between these two holidays: the process of those days becoming national holidays, the level of contestation, and the changing messages they have carried. The present study analyzes the national discourse around Anzac Day and Waitangi Day in New Zealand, and attempts to reveal how the official New Zealand government rhetoric about national unity becomes deconstructed. The following analysis is based on a selection of online articles from the New Zealand Herald and Stuff published in Auckland and Wellington, respectively. Both cities are populated by multi-ethnic groups, with Auckland featuring the largest Māori population.

Beaumont, Joan. 2015. The politics of memory: Commemorating the centenary of the First World War. Australian Journal of Political Science 50(3). 529-535. DOI: 10.1080/10361146.2015.1079938

Belich, James & Lydia Wevers. 2008. Understanding New Zealand cultural identities. Wellington: Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies, Victoria University of Wellington.

Berdahl, Daphne. 1994. Voices at the wall: Discourses of self, history and national identity at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. History and Memory 6(2). 88-124.

Canada’s tribute to New Zealanders. 1915. Nelson Evening Mail 12 May 1915. (accessed 1 January 2016).

Connerton, Paul. 1989. How societies remember. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511628061

Crotty, Martin & Christina Spittel. 2012. The one day of the year and all that: Anzac between history and memory. Australian Journal of Politics & History 58(1). 123-131. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8497.2012.01628.x

Deery, Phillip & Frank Bongiorno. 2014. Labor, loyalty and peace: Two Anzac controversies of the 1920s, Labour History 106. 205-228.

Durkheim, Émile. 1912. The elementary forms of the religious life. (Translated by Joseph Swain.) London: George Allen & Unwin.

Edensor, Tim. 2002. National identity, popular culture and everyday life. London: Berg Publishers.

Edmonds, Penelope. 2016. Settler colonialism and (re)conciliation: Frontier violence, affective performances, and imaginative refoundings. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Eriksen, Thomas H. 2010. Ethnicity and nationalism. Anthropological perspectives. London: Pluto Press.

Feldman, Jackie. 2002. Marking the boundaries of the enclave: Defining the Israeli collective through the Poland ‘experience’. Israel Studies 7(2). 84-114.

Gallipoli stirred new sense of national identity says Clark. 2005 New Zealand Herald, 25 April 2005. (accessed 6 June 2016).

Godfery, Morgan. 2015. Why do we ignore the New Zealand Wars? (accessed 1 June 2016).

Henry, Matthew. 2006. Making New Zealanders through commemoration: Assembling Anzac Day in Auckland, 1916-1939. New Zealand Geographer 62(1). 3-12. DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-7939.2006.00044.x

Heron, Mei. 2017. I just tried to listen’ - Anzac Day protester on 12-year-old’s interruption. Radio New Zealand, 26 April 2017. (accessed 5 June 2017)

Herzfeld, Michael. 2005. Cultural intimacy: Social poetics in the nation-state. (2nd edn.) New York, NY: Routledge.

Hucker, Graham. 2010. A determination to remember: Helen Clark and New Zealand’s military heritage. The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society 40(2). 105-118. DOI: 10.1080/10632921.2010.485088

Hunter, Kathryn. 2007. ‘Sleep on dear Ernie, your battles are oʼerʼ: A glimpse of a mourning community, Invercargill, New Zealand, 1914-1925. War in History 14(1). 36-62. DOI: 10.1177/0968344507071040

Kapferer, Judith. 2004. City, community, nation, state: Participation and spectacle. Social Analysis: The International Journal of Social and Cultural Practice 48(3). 108-125. DOI: 10.3167/015597704782352339

Kertzer, David. 1989. Ritual, politics, and power. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Key, John. 2015. Waitangi Day breakfast speech. (accessed 26 May 2016).

Lake, Marylin & Henry Reynolds. 2010. What’s wrong with ANZAC? The militarisation of Australian history. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.

Lewellen, Ted C. 2003. Political anthropology: An introduction. (3rd edn.) Westport, CT: Praeger.

Marshall, Russell. 1998. Bledisloe, Charles Bathurst. Dictionary of New Zealand biography. (first published in 1998.) Te Ara - The encyclopedia of New Zealand. (accessed 26 May 2016).

McAllister, Patrick A. 2012. National days and the politics of indigenous and local identities in Australia and New Zealand. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

Mike Hosking: Why NZ's national day is a mess. 2016. New Zealand Herald, 21 January 2016. (accessed 26 May 2017).

Miller, Raymond. 2015. Democracy in New Zealand. Auckland: Auckland University Press.

Orange, Claudia. 2011. The Treaty of Waitangi. (2nd edn) Wellington, NZ: Bridget Williams Books.

Paul Holmes: Waitangi Day a complete waste. 2012. New Zealand Herald, 11 February 2012. (accessed 26 May 2017).

Prime minister declares New Zealand’s support for Britain. 2017. new-zealands-support-for-britain-in-famous-radio-broadcast, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 2 August 2017 (accessed 26 May 2016).

Pomeroy, Arthur J. 2014. The portrayal of the First World War and the development of a national mythology in New Zealand. Journal of New Zealand Studies 18.

Rabel, Roberto. 2009. New Zealand's wars. In Giselle Byrnes (ed.), The new Oxford history of New Zealand, 245-268. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Rachid Chehab, Milena. 2016. Eleanor Catton: Pisarka, która została zdrajczynią. Gazeta Wyborcza, 1 February 2016.,75410,19563403,elanor-cattonpisarka-ktora-zostala-zdrajczynia.html (accessed 1 June 2016).

Rikihana Smallman, Elton. 2016. National day to remember the New Zealand Wars to start in 2017. Stuff, 31 October 2016.

Rudman, Brian. 2015. Focus on Gallipoli a national identity crisis. New Zealand Herald, 6 May 2015. (accessed 26 May 2016).

Smith, Philippa M. 2011. A concise history of New Zealand. (2nd edn.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139196574

Spillman, Lynette P. 1997. Nation and commemoration. Creating national identities in the United States and Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511520938

Stats NZ = 2013 Census QuickStats about Māori.

Stevens, Michael J. 2015. Māori political history 1860-1960. In Janine Hayward (ed.), New Zealand government and politics, 4-14. Auckland: Oxford University Press.

Ten thousand. 1934 Northern Advocate 6 February 1934. (accessed 1 June 2016).

Thomson, Alistair. 1994. Anzac memories: Living with the legend. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Treaty of Waitangi. 1940. Press 5 February 1940. (accessed 1 June 2016).

Treaty Pageant. 1940. The New Zealand Herald 7 February 1940. (accessed 1 June 2016).

Waitangi Day. 2014., (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 5 August 2014 (accessed 6 May 2017).

Walker, Franchesca. 2012. ‘Descendants of a warrior raceʼ: The Maori Contingent, New Zealand Pioneer Battalion, and martial race myth, 1914-19. War & Society 31(1). 1-21. DOI: 10.1179/204243411X13201386799091

Winter, Caroline. 2012. Commemoration of the Great War on the Somme: Exploring personal connections. Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change 10(3). 248-263. DOI: 10.1080/14766825.2012.694450

Studia Anglica Posnaniensia

The Journal of Adam Mickiewicz University

Journal Information

Cite Score 2017: 0.14

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.131
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.448


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 391 391 24
PDF Downloads 176 176 13