Māori in the Far North have today begun a 200 kilometre journey to Waitangi, in what’s expected to grow into the biggest hīkoi in 40 years.

The protest is standing against the new Government and its policies, which strip back the role of co-governance and the public use of te reo Māori.

Marchers have a five-day journey ahead of them, as they travel from the top of the North Island to the Waitangi treaty grounds.

“I want to let them know that there is a future them in Aotearoa, a future of self-determination,” said a participant.

Organiser Reuben Taipari said it was going to be a huge event.

“There’s so many people coming. We’re doing hīkoi, running, walking, on hoses, on the waka, everybody is coming to Waitangi to share their aroha, share their kaha,” he said.

They’re not the only group departing today, with multiple hīkoi taking place across Nothland – from Te Rerenga Wairua, Te Kao, Taipa, Ahipara, Mangamuka, Panguru and Hokianga.

They’ll join at Kawiti Marae on Sunday.

“It’s going to be probably the biggest hīkoi in 40 years,” Taipari said.

Waitangi Trust chief executive Ben Dalton was once a driving force behind the hīkoi to Waitangi and said it’s changed over the years.

“It would have been well into the late 80s early 90s before we were allowed on to not only this place [treaty grounds] but also the marae,” he said.

In recent years, fewer people have taken part, and Waitangi has been relatively calm.

However, some believe that’s about to change as tension around the Government’s policies continues to rise.

“The hīkoi isn’t seen as a separate part of the whole Waitangi event at the moment,” Dalton said.

“We’ve put it on the official agenda.”

“It’s a direct stab at some of their proposals and some of the actions they’re doing to Māori. Just to Māori,” Northland leader Nyze Manuel said.

“It’s making us all very angry. Because we feel like we’re the political football all the time, constantly.”

Now, they hope the message will finally cut through.