Culture, food mark Waitangi Day events

Last updated 13:00 07/02/2013
Waitangi
PATRICK HAMILTON/NELSON MAIL

TRADITIONAL GREETING: Labour list MP Maryan Street, and Michael Elkington hongi at the Powhiri as members of the public are welcomed on Whakatu Marae on Waitangi Day.

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Family, friends and celebrations not controversy held centre stage at Waitangi Day festivities in the Nelson region.

The annual Kai Festival at Whakatu Marae and Founders' Heritage Park continued to attract a large crowd of people from different cultures and backgrounds.

Whakatu Marae health manager Carol Hippolite said the festival had been "awesome" with an estimated 7000 people going to the festival - up from the 6500 who attended last year.

She said the feedback from stall holders had been fantastic with many wanting to re-book stalls for the next festival after selling out yesterday.

Mrs Hippolite said people had arrived consistently over the day.

A wide variety of food ranging from whitebait patties, rawena bread, curry, mussel pies and kumara cupcakes were for sale at the marae and at Founders.

The Te Hore family made the trip to Nelson from Blenheim selling fried bread, it could be eaten with sweet toppings including jam and golden syrup or, for an extra $2.50, kina.

Those who had never been onto a marae before had the chance to experience Maori culture and get welcomed onto the marae with a powhiri.

Hundreds came onto the marae during the 11am Powhiri, including visitors from China, Germany, France, Australia, Denmark, Canada and Austria.

Swiss citizens Jonas Widmer and David Bill, who are studying at the Nelson English Centre for nine weeks, loved the chance to come onto the marae.

Both said it was a spiritual experience.

Mr Widmer said he could feel chills on his back and neck.

"It was like a ghost."

The men both enjoyed the atmosphere and the chance to experience the culture.

Mr Bill said he particularly liked hearing Te Reo spoken as prior to that he had only seen the Maori language written down.

Barney Thomas of Whakatu Marae told the visitors the day was about coming together and understanding Maori culture.

Six iwi used Whakati Marae.

"We have come to celebrate today because we haven't got a bad country to live in. When you compare it with Afghanistan and Syria this is not a bad place ... It's about bringing the positives together and enjoying this moment."

Nelson-based Labour list MP Maryan Street said Waitangi Day was a day of celebration, but also one for sober reflection.

The Treaty of Waitangi envisioned equal partners between Maori and Pakeha and that had not been achieved.

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- The Nelson Mail

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