2016 Waitangi Dinner...
The New Zealand Ireland Association recently held its 30th annual Waitangi dinner. Over 50 members of the kiwi community gathered at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel in Killiney.
The Fitzpatrick Hotel in Killiney was chosen as this year's venue. It was a comfortable and hospitable setting for attendees as we arrived to enjoy a drink or two along with some mince pies and tomato sauce (but I'm pretty sure it wasn't Watties). As we took our seats we were formally welcomed by MC for the night, Johnathan Saint and President of the Association, Eldon Moors.
It was then over to Chris Kinder, a long standing member of the Association, to present us with an entertaining and interesting history of the association. We discovered that the association started when an article appeared in the Irish Times entitled ‘Calling all Kiwis in Ireland’. Chris had met with and gleaned much of the history of the organisation from one of its founding members Mrs Patricia Bailey, who we were delighted to have join us on the night.
Chris showed photos of previous NZIA events which including one such event of laying a hangi on the front lawn of Collins Barracks in 2000. It was amazing to see how many different events have occurred over its 30 year history and always with the same aim of representing New Zealand and bringing New Zealanders together, in Ireland.
We heard from Stan Zamyatin, a vexillologist, who is a person who studies the history and symbolism of flags. Stan presented ideas and discussion around the creation and history of flags and what different aspects of a flag represent. It was an opportunity for the audience to reflect on the upcoming flag referendum in NZ and what it means to the country and us as individuals.
After the thoughts about the flag, Robert Parata, of Ngati Toa, then kindly blessed the food with a Karakia and we all enjoyed our main meal of fish and beef which was all washed down with a delicious Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc of course.
After our meal, Robert Parata again took centre stage as he explained his whakapapa, some history of the haka - 'Ka Mate' created by Ngati Toa Chieftain Te Rauparaha around 1820, as well as a history of and reflection on the Treaty of Waitangi. Robert was a thoroughly engaging and charismatic speaker and when he concluded his talk with a rousing haka, assisted by Misty Smith – the audience were enthralled and inspired and I dear say a few tears may have been shed, as we felt like we were transported back to Aotearoa for just a minute. We could then hardly believe it when Robert then presented President, Eldon Moors, with a Taiaha, that he had carved himself.
He named it Ko Tahi Aroha, Ko Tahi Tangata – One Love, One People. A generous and profound gift to the Association as we aim to embody this concept and represent New Zealanders who have made Ireland their home. The Association looks forward to safe guarding this and it being handed down from President to President.
Before dessert it was time for fun and games as the raffle was drawn and the table quiz was decided. The winners were delighted with their various assortments of kiwi sweets, chips and chocolate, Merino clothing, All Black paraphernalia, gift vouchers, Kiwi beer and more!
One more surprise to come was that Robert had also carved another gift a fine patu – known as Whaea Eirin me ana Tama Rima – Mother Eirin and her five sons, which was also raffled off. Most appropriately Mr Alan McCarthy, the New Zealand Honorary Consul-General won this and Robert was able to present this to him with ceremonial hongi and handshake.
The night ended with Coromandel-born musician, Chris Baillie playing some memorable NZ tunes for people to enjoy and reminisce to.
As with every Waitangi Day dinner, it was wonderful to once again meet new people who have been in Ireland for a long time or a short time; who are all different ages, from all walks of life and who all have the shared experience of calling both New Zealand and Ireland home. Here’s to another 30 years everyone!
See photos from the night here