Hundreds gathered in the rain at Waitangi for the dawn service to mark the 174th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Leaders from across the political spectrum offered prayers at the service on Thursday morning at the upper marae on the Waitangi treaty grounds.

Both Prime Minister John Key and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira have paid tribute to the late Labour MP and former Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia, who died in April last year.

Many also gathered along the Waitangi River to watch waka crews battle the soggy conditions.(Source)

Recent protests Several hundred protesters often gather at Waitangi to reflect the long-standing frustrations Māori have fostered since the Treaty's signing. Although not part of the Government celebrations, Māori 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. Some commentators described this gesture as audacious and bold.


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