Beautiful and bizarre celebration for Waitangi

Last updated 05:00 07/02/2013

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It was a mixture of weird, wonderful and traditional attractions among the region's Waitangi Day celebrations.

Along Wellington's waterfront yesterday, families flocked to check out stalls, and to watch demonstrations and rousing kapa haka performances.

The brave and creative could even try their hand at traditional weaving and waka ama.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown was happy with the "really positive" atmosphere in the capital city yesterday.

"It's a great day and I think everybody from whatever ethnicity have been very welcome," she said.

Hutt city celebrated the day at Orongomai Marae, with a special theme promoting whanau anti-violence, while Whakarongotai Marae in Waikanae hosted an event teaching ancestors' history on the Kapiti Coast.

There were no spare car parks in sight as thousands of people flooded into Porirua for the Festival of the Elements - an event created to celebrate Waitangi Day with diversity and unity of cultures.

And the sun came out as families wandered a carnival-like setting, with performances from both Maori and other cultural groups.

On a day that has historically seen its share of tension, Te Papa included a unique way for Wellingtonians to let out any of their grievances.

Te Papa events producer Suzanne Tamaki booked a group of costumed Auckland performers running a "Wailing Chamber" for anyone who was willing to shed their worries in an eerie public ceremony.

The public was invited to write grievances on a piece of paper, put them inside a coffin, carry it into a tent and wish them away with chanting, instruments, and wailing.

"I thought it would be perfect for Waitangi Day and a chance for people to release their grief and sorrow in a healthy way," Miss Tamaki said.

But student Bailey Fraser, 19, was so uncomfortable with the screaming and yelling, that she ran from the tent before the ceremony was over.

"I was actually feeling really overwhelmed.

"It's really creepy."

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- The Dominion Post

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