South marks Waitangi Day

03:24, Feb 06 2013
Waka ama on the Oreti River
Action from the waka ama fun day on the Oreti River.
Waka ama on the Oreti River
Action from the waka ama fun day on the Oreti River.
Waka ama on the Oreti River
Invercargill girl Rhiannan Pearson (left) prepares to paddle in a waka ama for the first time. Coby Kuiti (right) also paddled in a waka ama on Oreti River today as part of the Waitangi day celebrations.

Waitangi Day celebrations have kicked off in Southland today with a waka ama fun day on Oreti River, where novices are invited to have a paddle.

Co-organiser Karina Davis-Marsden said the festivities would also include games of ki o rahi, a traditional Maori game similar to touch rugby, while clothes stalls would be on display and people were welcome to bring their barbecues along and enjoy the activities.

The waka ama races are being hosted by three Southland waka ama groups, Kahungunu, Oraka Aparima and Te Piritahi a Rau. They are providing lifejackets and coaching for novice paddlers, Mrs Davis-Marsden said.

Kiwi Haka group
Kiwi Haka group members Kahoki Mikaere, left, and Liz Davis, perform in the Queenstown Gardens.

''It's an opportunity for whanau, anyone actually, to come out and have a go at waka ama.''

A new six-man Waka Ama would also be launched on Oreti River later today, she said.

The festivities, located 1.5 kilometres past the Invercargill Rowing Club at Sandy Point, began at 10.30am and the first waka ama races began at 11am and would continue through the afternoon.

Riverton is also putting on a Waitangi Day show today, with the 10th annual Waitangi Day Music Fest at the Riverton Soundshell starting at 2pm.

Taramea Bay Soundshell Trust secretary Cazna Gilder said the day would include a fashion show, performances by kapa haka groups and music by 2012 Smokefreerockquest winners Lazarus Rising, The Giant Squid Ambush, Tie Dye and Apache Rose and other bands. Festivities would wind up about 8pm, she said.

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