International feel to celebrations

22:04, Feb 06 2014
Waikawa Marae
A Big crowd of visitors is lead on to the Mara during the Powhiri.

Hundreds of people from around the globe came together at Waikawa Marae to celebrate Waitangi Day yesterday.

Marae member Joe Puketapu said Waitangi Day was more than just a holiday as he welcomed visitors young and old from places including Papua New Guinea, Hungary and Australia.

"It's about the joining of two cultures and to better understand who we are . . ." he said. "We welcome you here and we welcome you back to our marae, this marae is for everybody . . . this is your marae now."

Gwenda Jones
Gwenda Jones and Granddaughter Anika Jones (2) take in the intricate carvings on the Meeting House.

Australian Cee Egan said it was inspiring to see such a powerful coming together of two cultures.

Maori culture was a lot more accepted and incorporated into the mainstream culture than Aboriginal cultures were in Australia.

"We've just had Australia Day and a lot of indigenous cultures in Australia used to called it Invasion Day and now Survival Day - it's never been a celebration of two cultures coming together."


Wesley Egan
One year old Sydneysider Wesley Egan is impressed by the bright red carvings on the Meeting House.

Hungarian couple Andras and Julia Kovacs said they were moved to see the two cultures under one flag.

Speaking through their son, Andras Kovacs Jnr, who has lived in New Zealand for about 10 years, the couple said Maori culture was quite exotic and "totally different" for them.

"For a European person it's very different to what we are used to . . . 1000 years ago it was very similar [to our culture] but it's different now," Mr Kovacs said.

Joe Puketapu
Joe Puketapu speaking during the powhiri.

New Zealand couple Ray and Gillian Fabling, who recently moved to Blenheim, said it was nice to be at such a "beautiful" celebration. "That's what today is all about, the country coming together or two people coming together . . . this is what it should be," Mrs Fabling said.

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Andras Kovacs
Andras Kovacs (Jnr), Andras Kovacs (Snr), Andras Kovacs (7), Burie Lilly, Marcell Kovacs (5), and Julia Kovacs.

The Marlborough Express