Dignitaries began arriving this afternoon, including Hone Harawira and his Mana Party supporters.
Tents are covering the Waitangi campsite, and a contingent of 300 Mana supporters are standing on the roadside, flying the Maori flag and showing protest signs reading “stop the mining” and “Aotearoa is not for sale”, as they watch visitors stream into the town.
Elsewhere on the grounds waka crews are practicing for Monday, with one crew of some 50 paddlers getting into its work.
The Navy is also present, with HMNZS Canterbury moored off the Treaty grounds.
Harawira has been welcomed on to the lower marae. Ministers Hekia Parata and Nick Smith are also in town.
The issue of asset sales is likely to dominate the celebrations, with the Maori Party worried the Government wants to abandon protection of treaty rights when it sells shares in state owned enterprises.
It has released a special primer urging people to reject any move to leave out Treaty of Waitangi clauses from legislation to enable the process.
The party wants people to either support Section Nine of the State Owned Enterprises Act being in the new legislation, or ask for a specific Treaty clause applying to Crown obligations be included.
The Prime Minister is expected to raise the issue tomorrow.
Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae has since been questioned today over where he stands with Maori.
Mateparae and his wife Janine Lady Mateparae were welcomed onto Te Tii Marae in Northland with a powhiri at the Lower Waitangi Marae earlier today.
Kaumatua Kingi Taurua said His Excellency was asked what role he will play for Maori, and whether his responsibility will be to Maori or to the “settler government”.
Taurua said under the Treaty the Governor General’s first priority should be for Maori.
Matua Kingi has also called on the Government to talk politics at a marae rather than a luxury hotel in the Bay of Islands tomorrow.
Ngapuhi kaumatua Kingi Taurua said he wanted Government officials to front for discussions at the Maori Parliament.
”We see this place (Te Tii Marae) as our parliament. This is where we should start and begin issues, not in a hotel.”
Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has sent best wishes to New Zealanders for Waitangi Day on behalf of President Barack Obama and the American people.
Clinton said the day to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi is time to reflect on New Zealand’s rich history and promising future.