Historic Mt Drury (Hopukiore) has again been chosen as the venue for Tauranga's Waitangi Day dawn service.
The February 6 service - to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi - was one of the key events planned for the celebrations, which this year fall on a Wednesday.
It will be the second time the event has been held on the Marine Parade side of the base of Hopukiore.
Mt Drury was chosen following a decision by the tribal owners of Mauao that the mountain was sacred and the summit extremely sacred. The trust representing Mauao's Maori owners said that with hundreds gathering on the summit for the service, it was felt that anything that impacted negatively on the maunga (mountain) should cease or be shifted.
The dawn service was begun by Maori elders and members of the Tauranga Moana District Maori Council in the late 1970s. The last summit Waitangi Day service was in 2010 because slips closed Mauao in 2011 and forced the cancellation of the service.
Ngai Tukairangi Hapu chairman Neil Te Kani said the organisers were keen to see more public participation in what was an important occasion for locals and visitors. Each year kaumatua and kuia, supported by Rangatahi and clergy, joined together for the service.
Funding has been received from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage to support Waitangi Day activities around the Bay.
The advantages of Hopukiore for the dawn service were ease of access compared with the summit, the cultural and historical associations of the area and the nearby public toilets. Hopukiore was a significant pa site and a carving school, with many archaeological traces remaining, including caves used for burials.
People have been asked to begin gathering at Hopukiore at 6am on February 6, for a 6.30am start to the service.
The service will begin with a karakia (blessing) by tangata whenua, with an open forum at the end of the service to allow people the chance to have their say about Waitangi Day.
Waitangi Day will also be marked further down the coast with a community fair at Papamoa.