Thousands head to Waitangi Day commemorations
Several thousand people joined in the Waitangi Day commemorations at Whakarongotai Marae in Waikanae on Saturday.
The event kicked off with a powhiri and speeches by Koro Don Te Maipi and Mayor Ross Church along with Hohepa Potini, George Jenkins, Andre Baker and Ake Taiaki from local iwi Te Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai which hosted the commemorations in partnership with council.
Using words from Te Whiti o Rongomai (Māori spiritual leader and founder of Parihaka), ‘He hōnore, he korōria, maungārongo ki te whenua’ (‘Peace on earth, goodwill to all men’), Koro Don set the tone of the day.
Mayor Ross Church remarked on how much people were enjoying themselves and “celebrating what it means to be a New Zealander”.
“This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the partnership between council and tāngata whenua, the longest lasting partnership between local government and tāngata whenua in the country. One particularly important area we are collaborating on is our guardianship of the environment. We are encouraging people to work with us to protect our land, water and air, and inspire others to live sustainably.”
Following the powhiri, the crowd was kept enthralled with kapa haka performances from Waikanae and Kapanui school children, a host of local bands and cultural demonstrations. More entertainment took place in Mahara Place along with market stalls for people to browse through and chalk art for children. A historic bus tour of sites of significance in Waikanae was highly popular.
“We were delighted to commemorate Waitangi Day with our community and to welcome everyone to our marae,” Chair of Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai Kaunihera Kaumātua (Council of Elders), Mahutonga Blankensop said. “It was a very enjoyable day and Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai can be proud of our efforts to share our history and culture. Mahara Gallery’s historical exhibition, which was part of the Waitangi Day commemorations, runs until 14 February and displays fine examples of our artwork, traditional and contemporary.”
The council and local iwi have been co-hosting Waitangi Day commemorations since 2002.