Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern used her Waitangi Day speech to call on people to come together and overcome the challenges facing the country now and in the future.

A pre-recorded speech by Ardern was played as part of today’s Waitangi Day commemorations.

Due to the pandemic, the Waitangi Trust has shifted the focus of this year’s Waitangi Day commemorations from the typical in-person ceremony at the treaty grounds north of Paihia to a virtual experience via broadcasts and online.

Ardern said it was important to take time and reflect on Waitangi Day and think about how to improve outcomes for Maori and all New Zealanders.

She said that across Aotearoa there were stories of arrival, settlement, conflict, unity, hope and hardship and acknowledging these stories was crucial for the connection between people. .

“Today we mark the signature of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and our ancestors who signed this document, we mark their journey and continue to make ours, the one that defines our nation – a nation we can all be proud of.

“Unity is something we’ve shown over the past few years, I know it hasn’t been easy. There were a lot of clouds and sometimes they looked so dark the sun couldn’t shine, but together we have, and we continue to overcome.”

Ardern said she was proud that this year schools have the resources to teach New Zealand history and that the country is celebrating the first Matariki public holiday.

Ardern said she would return to Waitangi in person, but for now she had to speak to the people at Parliament in Wellington.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Governor General Dame Cindy Kiro traveled to Waitangi to pre-record speeches last month.