Porirua's Waitangi Day Festival of the Elements festival scrapped video

Kevin Stent/Fairfax NZ

Satirical band Maori Side Steps entertain large crowd at the Porirua Festival of the Elements

After weathering 25 years of celebrations, Porirua's Festival of the Elements has been cancelled.

Touted as New Zealand's biggest Waitangi Day celebration outside Waitangi itself, the event that attracted up to 30,000 people had become a victim of its own success, its co-founder said.

Porirua Arts Council founding member Bob Cater said the year-round work of applying for funding had become unmanageable for the group's voluntary members.

Iemina Terawasi, 7, of the St Josephs Kiribati Catholic Community Group at the 2017 festival of the Elements.
KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Iemina Terawasi, 7, of the St Josephs Kiribati Catholic Community Group at the 2017 festival of the Elements.

"It's a huge beast [the festival] and a huge amount of work for a rapidly decreasing core group of volunteers."

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Cater, who received a Queens Service Medal  for his work on the festival, said it continued to grow from its humble beginnings.

Missionaries of Charity from Waitangirua enjoyed the 2017 celebrations.
KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Missionaries of Charity from Waitangirua enjoyed the 2017 celebrations.

"You often felt you were just being dragged along by it as it gathered its own momentum."

He wasn't sure if the Arts Council would allow the trade-marked name to be used by anyone else running a Waitangi Day event.

"We'll have to look at that as it arises."

Tapaaki Fakamilo delights the audience with a traditional Tuvaluan dance (fatele). The 75 year old has been dancing ...
KEVIN STENT/STUFF

Tapaaki Fakamilo delights the audience with a traditional Tuvaluan dance (fatele). The 75 year old has been dancing since she could walk.

A Porirua City Council spokeswoman said the council would still run a Waitangi Day event but planning "has yet to occur".

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"Funding for it will be allocated by the council once details of the event are determined."

Arts council chair Judy McKoy said the council gave $55,000 to this year's festival which cost $175,000 to run.

The 2017 crowd in front of the main stage.
KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ

The 2017 crowd in front of the main stage.

The council would have difficulty applying for grants and funding because it was a business, not a charity, she said.

Any event put on by council would be vastly different to "the community-based festival". .

Porirua mayor Mike Tana ensured the city would still have an event on the same scale as what they were used to.

Greta Beckmann,2, is not so sure about this  String Bean Puppet.
KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Greta Beckmann,2, is not so sure about this String Bean Puppet.

"It will be the same type of event but the only thing that will change is the name."

Ngati Toa spokesman  Taku Parai was shocked to hear the festival was cancelled and said iwi would support any attempt to keep it going.

"Any event that brings 30,000 people into a city has got to be good. Why would you knock something like that on the head?"

The festival would leave another hole in Porirua's event calender after last year's cancellation of the 20-year-old Christmas in the Park due to a lack of funding. It was replaced by four days of events in the city centre.

 - Stuff

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