Waitangi Day starts Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations
3 February 2012
Waitangi Day marks beginning of Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations
If you need to know anything about Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond (60th) Jubilee this year, then Ministry for Culture and Heritage websites Te Ara, the encyclopedia of New Zealand (www.teara.govt.nz), and NZHistory (www.nzhistory.net.nz) are the places to visit. This week, to mark the Queen’s ascension to the throne on 6 February 1952 – Waitangi Day in New Zealand – the Ministry’s sites have launched new entries exploring the relationship between Queen and this country over the last 60 years.
For most New Zealanders, Elizabeth II is the only sovereign we have known. She came to the throne in 1952 as a young married woman of 25, with two pre-schoolers. The following year she was crowned in a ceremony which many New Zealanders listened to on their crackling radios. And at the end of 1953 she stepped onto New Zealand soil, the first reigning monarch to do so.
NZHistory’s feature on the Diamond Jubilee, written by leading historian Gavin McLean, explores the Queen’s constitutional and public ceremonial roles, royal tours, Māori and the monarchy and changing attitudes to the royal family.
Reflecting on Te Ara’s new entries on the royal family and governors-general, the site’s senior editor, Jock Phillips, remembers his own sightings of royalty:
“The 1953 tour marked the highpoint of popular adoration for the royal family in New Zealand. About three quarters of the nation stood on apple boxes beside the road to see her and the duke of Edinburgh drive past. As a six year old, I confess to seeing her no fewer than 10 times, and if you look very closely at the clip of her rail journey through Hawke’s Bay you might even see a young boy on the Waipukurau station waving a Union Jack. I remember thinking that she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.”
It is one of the strange accidents of history that Queen Elizabeth came to the throne on Waitangi Day, 6 February. The film in the Te Ara entry of the young queen’s visit to Turangawaewae in 1953 is a testament to the importance of the relationship between the monarch and the Māori community.