Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Waitangi Day in LA: Kiwis build giant silver fern in sand

by E Jo (writer), San Diego, February 03, 2007


Want a good reason to blow off work next Monday (besides your Superbowl hangover)? Waitangi Day. It’s a public holiday. Not an American one but still a good excuse to skip work, grab a shovel and head to the beach to build a gargantuan, sandy, silver fern. One of New Zealand’s most important holidays will be celebrated on the beach just south of the Santa Monica pier in support of New Zealand’s “Made from New Zealand” campaign. Monday February 5th 10AM digging will commence. Constructing the most colossal sand sculpture this beach has ever seen, artist Mike Mizrahi of Inside Out Productions has the monumental task of sculpting a 300 by 150 ft. silver fern out of sand. Mizrahi explains, “The Californian coast is at the other side of the Pacific Ocean from New Zealand, and I love the idea of New Zealanders making a connection across such a vast distance…By building the fern on the Californian coast, we will literally be making New Zealand’s mark on the world.”

Developed by Auckland-based creative communications partnership Ready Now, “Made from New Zealand” is a new brand representing New Zealand’s creativity and entrepreneurship. The brand hopes to connect and promote New Zealand businesses and people from all over the world. The enormous beach project is being funded by the sale of 10,517 commemorative T-shirts. This number represents the number of kilometers between Bethells Beach, New Zealand and the beach in Santa Monica. At 1:30PM, Kiwi celebrities Temuera Morrison and Martin Henderson along with New Zealanders living in the U.S. will help Mizrahi build the giant silver fern. The Waitangi Day event in Santa Monica is the global launch of the brand and will be broadcast live all over the world. It will appear via a live web-cast online ( as well as being broadcast live on Māori Television. New Zealand will see the first images of the fern’s construction on the morning of February 6th at 10:30AM (Feb. 5th 1:30PM our time).

Waitangi Day is the official New Zealand holiday commemorating the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on February 6th 1840 between the English and Māori tribal chiefs. The Treaty was drafted not as constitution but as a broad statement of principals between British officials and Māori chiefs. The founding document of New Zealand was to be an exchange of promises between two parties. Lost in translation, the wording lead to two opposing interpretations. In the English version, Māori ceded to Britain the ‘sovereignty’ of New Zealand giving the Crown the exclusive right to buy and own land and other possessions. With no word for ‘sovereignty’ in the Māori language, the British translated the semantic components of the word ‘sovereignty’ literally into their components of the Māori language. The calque ‘kawanatanga’ was formed by combining 'kawana' which means ‘governor’ with the Māori suffix 'tanga', which is similar to the English suffix 'ship'. The word ‘kawanatanga’ appeared in the Māori language for the first time in the Treaty. Thus the Māori believed that they gave up governance over their land but retained full rights to manage their own affairs, akin to the lease versus the sale of land. The delicate yet profound nuances of interpretation lead to the New Zealand Wars from 1845 to 1872. A real bone of contention, the ambiguous wording of the document and its political significance remain in dispute.

Despite the political controversy over Waitangi Day, the celebration in Santa Monica hopes to bring New Zealanders together in honor of their solidarity as a people. The silver fern, an emotional symbol of inspiration, is an image to which all New Zealanders can relate. The symbol is widely used in New Zealand culture ranging from military badges, flags, coins, and Māori art, to sport logos, “Fernleaf Butter” and Kiwi T-shirts. The massive, iridescent, silver fronds of this ancient indigenous plant symbolize new life, new beginnings and growth. Building the silver fern on our beach will be a new beginning for “Made from New Zealand” and a chance for us and the world to reflect on another country’s unique history.

Sign up form to help dig the silver fern:

Waitangi Day in LA event details:

2001 video of silver fern construction in Bethells beach, New Zealand:

10,517 T-shirts for sale (each sewn with a thread from Sir Edmund Hillary’s sock):

New Zealand history:

About the Writer

E Jo is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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5 comments on Waitangi Day in LA: Kiwis build giant silver fern in sand

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By V on February 03, 2007 at 04:23 pm
Kiaora & thank you! There you go ... I didn't know what I was going to do for Waitangi Day. I don't know any Kiwis here. Although an Australian citizen I am New Zealand born of a Maori Father. Hooray! I can go be with my iwi!!
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By E Jo on February 03, 2007 at 05:15 pm
Well I am sure you will meet some fellow Kiwis there (and Australians too)! Wow, I hope I got all my facts right since one of my readers is Maori!! This holiday reminds me of the controversial 'Discoverer's Day' in Hawaii. When I lived there, the Hawaiians boycotted this holiday in huge groups. They had native festivities all over the island in protest (I understand. Cook wasn't so great to the natives) Similar to Native American plight here. Man 'whitey' has a track record...
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By Steven Lane on February 04, 2007 at 01:13 am
Check out a movie called "Once Were Warriors" if you haven't seen it. Great article, but I think a tough sell for Super Bowl Sunday. Hey, Ariel how about a way to post pictures of events like this?
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By Steven Lane on February 05, 2007 at 01:10 pm
What an idjet, I read it as it was happening on Superbowl Sunday.
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By E Jo on February 05, 2007 at 06:04 pm
I knew what you meant :) (would have been nice if it had been, then I wouldn't have been forced to watch that silly little football game)
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