On February 6 each year New Zealand celebrates Waitangi Day.
This national holiday marks the signing of what is regarded as New Zealand’s founding document, a treaty signed on February 6 1840 between the then Queen of England Victoria, and the chiefs of most of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori tribes.
This holiday is at the height of summer on the other side of the world, where it is a great chance for families to get together and for communities to reflect on what happened when Europeans arrived & how modern New Zealand has changed to address this.
This year the holiday falls on a Saturday, meaning it is a chance for New Zealanders living in the Northern Hemisphere to get-together – and try not to be too envious of the bbqs and beach day back home.
I’ve now been in Milan for six months, where I have discovered a small but vibrant NZ community who on February 6 are planning to watch some Six Nations Rugby together. Currently New Zealand’s All Blacks are the rugby world champions – but this time around we’ll be supporting Italy!
People and rugby are great connections, but not the only ones we see between Italy and NZ.
One of my first jobs here was to attend a dinner marking the installation of a new signal light above Lake Como. The best solution they could find for the Faro Voltiano came from a New Zealand company called Vega, whose signal lights are also used on the Suez Canal, the River Thames and around the US coastline.
NZ technology and software is being used by other Italian companies too, to deliver on business objectives – ranging from software specially designed for cinemas, to radio technology to monitor utilities in far flung locations.
More well known is the fact that the finest New Zealand merino wool & deer leather are used in luxury Italian brands; and that the world’s premium kiwifruit brand Zespri, whose home base is in New Zealand’s beautiful Bay of Plenty, works in partnership with growers in Italy.
And of course, Waitangi Day is also a perfect chance to have a literal taste of New Zealand. Bursting with flavour, NZ sauvignon blanc is a favourite in many countries… and can help transport you to the South Pacific, albeit briefly!
New Zealand Consul General in Milan and Trade Commissioner Italy/Turkey