The Declaration of Independence

New Zealand flag 1834
Flag chosen in March 1834 by 25 chiefs

February 6, Waitangi Day 2011  is the day that representatives of the British Crown and Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, Northland. The Treaty formed the foundation of a new nation and saw New Zealand become part of the British Empire.

Part of the lead-up to the signing of the Treaty was a document that was circulated and signed five years prior. That document was called the Declaration of Independence and was commissioned by James Busby (who was appointed by the British Government to his position in order to protect British trade interests) in reaction to activity from other countries on New Zealand shores, notably France and America. It was at this time that Maori chose the British to negotiate with – in response to French brutality – as a way of managing the newcomers and ensuring that they to behave according to tikanga.

The Declaration maintained that full sovereign power was with rangatira (chiefs). It was signed at Waitangi with northern rangatira and this was later extended to southern rangatira. The Declaration was made an official document in 1846 and outlines the legislative authority request of the rangatira which was also implicit in the Treaty.

For more information on the Declaration and the Treaty, a really helpful website to look at is Network Waitangi Otautahi. They are a non-profit organisation dedicated to education around the Treaty. You can also read the declaration in English and Maori on

Brush up on your NZ history skills and read what the library website has on Waitangi Day events.
Read our Waitangi Factsheet for a quick refresher of our National day.
See what is happening locally to celebrate Waitangi Day.
At your local library you will see more information and images  on display about Waitangi day.

Classical Sparks make sweet sweet music

FireworksSaturday 5 February is Classical Sparks night. A Christchurch tradition. I’m no classical music connoisseur, but who can resist the combination of booming music and fireworks!

If you want the Classical Sparks thrills to last, we’ve got a list of the music that will be  played that links to our catalogue. So if  you fall in love with a tune, you can look it up on Youtube, or get out a CD – and lose yourself in the music.

My picks for 2011? Can’t resist a bit of sexy 1940s swing like  In the Mood by Glenn Miller. And Wagner’s Ride Of The Valkyries is THE Classical Sparks crowdpleaser. BOOOOOoOM!

Appreciating Aotearoa: Waitangi Day

Kia ora. We’ve got a variety of resources for Waitangi Day. Here’s a quick guide:

Waka launch, Waitangi Day, Okain’s Bay - 1977 (a winner in our Heritage Week competition of 2008)
Waka, Okain’s Bay - Waitangi Day 1977 (an entry in our Heritage Week competition 2008)

While the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in Waitangi on 6 February 1840, signings in the South Island took place in May and June of that year. On 30 May 1840, two Ngāi Tahu chiefs, Iwikau and John Love (Hone Tikao), signed the Treaty of Waitangi at Ōnuku on Akaroa Harbour. The Akaroa area plays a significant role in Treaty history, as it was European involvement in an 1830 raid on the area by Te Rauparaha that led to British intervention and eventually the development of the Treaty.

For a local focus, try:

Who needs food when there’s poetry for lunch? An interview with Iggy McGovern


Owen Marshall had looked forward to speaking with him. So had I. He was meant to participate in ‘Poetry for Lunch’, ‘A Tale of Two Cities: Belfast and Glasgow’ and ‘Survivor Poetry’.” But when the Press Christchurch Writers Festival was cancelled, Irish poet and physicist Iggy McGovern came to Christchurch anyway. No 7.1 could stop this super-poet!

“I do like Christchurch,” Iggy commented when I asked him if Christchurch has influenced his writing: 

…it’s just the right size — I had the ultimate pleasure of being recognised when I came into the library! South Island is the only Christchurch poem so far but the 2010 aftershocks are bound to ripple up sometime soon…

Iggy had planned to read from his poetry collection, The King of Suburbia alongside Owen Marshall, among others poets. But what is it like to be both a scientist (a synchroton radiation techniques specialist, to be exact) and a poet?

Certainly Iggy is not the first to combine the forces of science and poetry. Goethe may be the most famous example. There is also Czeck poet and immunologists Miroslav Holub. So, why does poetry and science coalesce in some individuals? What links these seemingly disparate fields? Iggy supports Holub’s idea that poetry and science are ultimately “…about the defense of Truth.”

Read my full interview with Iggy McGovern.

Science is always striving for the one meaning and is ruthless about excluding things that are unsubstantiated… Poetry on the other hand is always striving for different meanings.
Iggy McGovern