Yesterday Tane and I joined an estimated 10,000 other New Zealanders for the annual Waitangi Day Circle Line Pub Crawl. The rules were pretty simple: wear NZ gears, sing loudly, stop at various pubs along the Circle Line, only travel on Cirle Line Trains, and while on the trains, you are not to sit down or hold on. So, early Saturday morning we boarded the train to Paddington to start and as soon as I saw a guy dressed in a NZ police uniform in Ealing and a girl with a tui hat and Glassons bag, I knew it would turn into a pretty good day.
Given the amount of beer that was flowing, it's remarkable that it didn't turn ferral. The huge crowd was in pretty good spirts though, except of course when some people clad in balck and white were caught boarding a District Line train and were booed at by hundreds of people. And when one guy was caught holding on while the rickety train was moving and had to let go after chants of "don't hold on, don't hold on!" Some of the locals looked a bit bewildered but most seemed to be fairly bemused. To quote one english guy "I knew that beating England at the cricket the other night must be a big deal, but this celebration is a bit extreme isn't it?"
People dressed up in all sorts of outfits. Silver ferns and kiwis were everywhere, as were beer t-shirts, NZ flags and buzzy bees. Some were more original - we saw sheep, people dressed up as 1970s policemen, cows, fake AirNZ pilots, fake moko, and t-shirts displaying the tui logo and the phrase "we'd rather be in NZ for Waitangi Day - yeah right!". There were also groups in Tino Rangatiratanga tees, and one bloke who was wearing a t-shirt displaying the text of the Treaty (in English, mind). These were some of my favourite costumes:
One of the themes from the day was saying "good afterble constanoon!" to as many bobbies as possible. As you could imagine, they were everywhere, although seemed to be enjoying themselves as well for the most part. I managed to say it to three policeman - two of whom smiled, and one that looked at me like I was crazy. These ones also let us take a photo with them, hurrah!
The day ended with a mass haka underneath Big Ben in the late afternoon. Traffic came to a standstill and the haka started just after Big Ben struck four. It was standing room only as all the NZers squished in Parliament Square, being photographed by bemused tourists wondering what we were on about.
After the main haka, when the only thing left to do seemed to be cheering the crazy people climbing flagpoles, Tane, Ben and Simon decided to do there own haka as we were walking away. The hilarious thing was though that while doing their poukanas they attracted a small crowd of American tourists and got a big clap for their efforts.
It was a great day, and next year I intend to be there again. Although I am glad that I have an entire year to master the art of being on the tube without holding on.