When planning to stay in Paihia, the first place most Kiwis think about visiting is the Waitangi Treaty Ground: the place for all New Zealanders where the nation’s history was first shaped.

Walk from North Base to the Treaty Grounds in just 30 minutes, along the beach and across the Waitangi Bridge. To your left is the Waitangi golf course. On your right pass the resort hotel and the car park and you’re soon standing on the patch of ground overlooking the Bay where the Treaty of Waitangi Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed. The flagstaff marks the spot.

To gain a full appreciation of this special place and its historical significance, we recommend you buy a Waitangi Experience Pass. With that you have full access to all the Treaty Grounds have to offer: all heritage buildings and the world’s largest war canoe, entry to Te Kōngahu and Te Rau Aroha museums, a 50-minute guided tour around the grounds, a cultural performance and demonstrations in the carving studio.

Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi, opened in 2016, features a multimedia experience telling the story of the treaty from different perspectives in a way that’s impressive to say the least. Upstairs there’s a gallery for temporary exhibitions.

Te Rau Aroha provides further insight into significant aspects of New Zealand’s history. It includes exhibitions on the New Zealand Wars, the Pioneer Battalion of WWI and the Maori Battalion of WWII.

Then there’s the beautifully-restored Treaty House, the original British Residency erected in 1834. Themed rooms take you back to the times of the first occupants James Busby and family, before the treaty was signed by representatives of Maori and the colonial power.

Development of Waitangi as New Zealand’s place of nationhood on began in 1932, when Governor General Lord Bledisloe and Lady Bledisloe purchased around 1,000 acres and gifted it as a national memorial. The first ceremony to mark the signing of the treaty on took place in 1934. The property is managed by the Waitangi National Trust Board, made up of representatives from all the regions of Aotearoa and families with historical connections to the Treaty.

As well as the annual commemorations New Zealanders are so familiar with, the Treaty Grounds today are a place of learning and entertainment. School group visits are a frequent activity, there are workshops and art exhibitions, hāngi and concert evenings take place, and there’s a gift shop and café to enjoy.

Make a day of it and experience all the Waitangi Treaty Grounds have to offer. Return to North Base after a fun and informative time, with a heightened awareness of the country’s nationhood and all that went before to make New Zealand the place it is today.

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