Happy Waitangi Day!
On Saturday 4th February I became an honorary Kiwi by joining in the revelry of the Waitangi Day celebrations here in London. I can say ‘honorary’ as I feel partially immersed in the laid back culture and language of the great NZ. I just haven’t got there yet.
I live with a fabulous girl from New Zealand, and through her and other key social gatherings (like the Rugby World Cup – obviously!) have met any other Kiwis I now come to call my good friends. To the point where I even say ‘awesome’, and ‘ay’ at the end of the sentence. I haven’t quite mastered the art of ‘sweet as’ or ‘bro’ yet. Or working out the men (separate blog post needed).
In New Zealand, Waitangi Day is a public holiday, commemorating the signing of the ‘founding document’ of the Country, the Treaty of Waitangi, in 1840. Here in London, it’s a giant pub crawl on the route of the Circle Line – a crazy celebration of celebrating home away from home that involves pies, pints and a piss-up, and which ends with revelers eagerly spectating as a group of half-naked guys perform the Haka outside the Houses of Parliament. Epic.
Around 4,000 Kiwis took to the streets of London this year, alongside a few ‘token poms’ like me. Fancy dress is a must, and this year I joined my friends by partaking in a ‘David Bain Sweater Appreciation Society.’ David Bain is a prolific murderer, accused of killing his family, who was sent down but acquitted 13 years later. But throughout the trials he became known for the crazy, grandad’esque jumpers he wore. But note here that we were not worshiping the man, just admiring the ‘fashion.’
It turns out David Bain was a key theme this year, as was the purchase of the hideous jumper from Primark. Alas, we were not as clever and original as we thought. But I bet Primark made a killing (bad pun). But in true Kiwi community style, us ‘Bainers’ couldn’t resist a cheeky photo opportunity with one another, or with the many New Zealand Lambs also out on the rampage.
Sadly, with good times comes negativity and it’s since been reported in New Zealand press that a Kiwi, Dylan (douche) Clements, filed a complaint with the New Zealand High Commissioner, Derek Leaks, saying that the behaviour on the day was a ‘shameful display of debauchery.’ He obviously had no friends to go out and play with.
It was no more debauched than a regular Saturday night in town, the only exception being thousands more people. I didn’t see any fights, everyone cooperated with the police, the majority of the general public looked on with a smile and the huge gathering at the end didn’t result in any criminal damage.
I feel no shame whatsoever about being involved. I would only hope that if I was living abroad and surrounded by thousands of fellow Londoners that I too would enjoy a day of celebrating the love of your fellow man… and your homeland.
So, thank you to my Kiwi buddies. It was super fun and I can’t wait to see your Country (hopefully with some of you back in it)… and party some more.