Waitangi Day festival an elemental experience

BY MATTHEW DALLAS
Last updated 09:35 07/02/2013

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The Porirua community celebrated Waitangi Day with colour and creativity at the annual Festival of the Elements at Te Rauparaha Park.

Punters enjoyed treats and attractions.

Event co-ordinator Margaret Armour and her team faced a couple of anxious days earlier in the week, trying to set up amid regular downpours and strong winds.

"It's the most challenging conditions we've ever faced with the set-up," she said.

But on the day, the winds eased and the clouds parted mid- morning.

The crowd built slowly to begin with, Ms Armour said, but by the afternoon, the park, Pataka and recreation centre were hives of activity.

The Porirua Arts Council event, established in 1990 - originally as a biennial festival - traditionally draws a crowd of about 30,000. Organisers estimate this may have swelled to 35,000 this year, with much stronger numbers than normal on hand to watch headliners, such as Ranea Aperahana and The Laughing Samoans, in the evening.

The winner of the sculpture competition was Royden Ekman from Whitby, with Chris and Joe Davidson of Plimmerton placing second, and Jules Hunt and Coral Lace from Woburn third.

The talent quest was was won by Abigail Kempf, who recently moved from Timaru to Titahi Bay. Jane Lafaele and Peter Briggs were second, and Sarah Whittaker of Whitby third.

The Festival of the Elements was staged from a budget of about $140,000. Its financing is "still very tight" says Ms Armour, but connections ensure the most is made of every dollar.

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