On 6 February 1840 the British Crown and indigenous Maori signed what would become New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, granting the former sovereignty and the latter equal rights and authority over their own land and culture.
Fast-forward more than 170 years and the anniversary of that significant event marks the most significant event in any Londontown Kiwi’s social calendar – the Circle Line Pub Crawl.
Get set for one of the largest pub crawls in Europe as more than 8,000 Kiwis (and anyone else who wants to tag along) take to London’s streets and Underground transport network to celebrate the birth of the land of Hobbits, All Blacks, kiwi and more sheep than people.
When and where
While back home the day marks a public holiday and a sleep-in for most sane-minded New Zealanders, in London the pub crawl kicks off at 10am at Paddington on the Saturday closest the actual day. From there, either walk or catch the Circle Line anti-clockwise towards Temple, getting off the Tube at each stop for a beverage at the nearest pub.
The crawl culminates with a mass haka (traditional Maori war cry) in Parliament Square around 4pm, after which time a lot of people continue on to Temple Walkabout while many others head to the one in Shepherd’s Bush. If the square is occupied by protestors, however, the haka will most likely take place in nearby Old Palace Yard.
For the past three years London Underground has closed the Circle Line due to “Engineering Work”, which means you’ll have to walk it (I’d recommend grabbing a couple of drinks from an off-license). However, even when the line is working stations are often closed during the day due to overcrowding.
What to expect
As if the Circle Line wasn’t already incredibly frustrating, passersby can expect further delays and overcrowding. Everyone else can expect good times, as literally thousands of Kiwis don flags, All Black jerseys, swannies and all manner of hilarious and clever New Zealand-themed costumes.
Of course, the police will be enforcing liquor laws on the Tube itself – so don’t even think about it – but otherwise they’re always good natured about the drunken revelry and usually more than happy to pose for photographs (which always seems to be a popular pastime with drunk Kiwis on the day).
Naturally, the haka is usually a bit of a shambles as the mass quantities of alcohol takes its toll on everyone involved. Although lacking the coordination demonstrated most notably by New Zealand’s national rugby union team the All Blacks, which perform it before international matches, the haka is a truly wicked sight.
The square fills up fast so make sure you’re there early if you want to get involved or find a good spot to watch it from.