Whanau fun for Waitangi

Family fun on sunny day

BRIDGET RAILTON AND AMANDA PARKINSON
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2014
queens park waitangi
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ
WE'VE GOT THE MOVES: Siblings Nirvana, 6, left, and Drake Maxwell, 2, dance at the Waitangi Day concert in Queens Park.

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The combination of sunshine and a public holiday delighted people throughout the south as hundreds took part in Waitangi Day celebrations.

With temperatures hitting the 20s, family fun was high on people's agendas as they took advantage of the different events.

At Sandy Point, about 150 people took to the banks of the Oreti River for a Waka Ama Family Fun Day.

Nga Hau e Wha-Te Tomairangi Waka Ama chairman Will Payne said the day was about having fun with the whanau and maybe trying something new - and the fine weather enabled that.

"It's everybody being here together really.

"A day for everybody to celebrate."

This was the second time the event had been held at Sandy Point and there was definitely a bigger crowd than last year, he said.

Later in the day, a crowd of about 300 flocked to the Queens Park band rotunda for the Waitangi Day concert Sounds of Aotearoa.

The concert, which was exclusively New Zealand music played by local artists, began at 1.30pm and played on until late afternoon.

Musicians Jacqui Williams, Matt Joll, Kipu Tipuna and the band Lipstick had people up dancing.

Venture Southland creative projects manager Angela Newell said it had a relaxed, family vibe.

"There are a lot of families just out here enjoying the day."

She hoped the concert would continue to develop the resurgent trend of outdoor music events in summer in Southland.

"It's definitely something we'd look at doing again. There's been a lot of interest."

Southland residents yesterday had mixed thoughts about the national day.

Invercargill man Warren Bardell said it was good to have a day off but the politics of the day had "dragged on".

"I don't think it should have such a big thing made out of it, we should not have to pay for what our forefathers did," he said.

But, for the younger generation, the day held its traditional meaning.

Fourteen-year-old Keegan Fiebig said it was "a day for us to remember the Maori Treaty".

Invercargill MP Eric Roy was in Southland yesterday "half working and half enjoying Waitangi Day".

"There are no huge divisions down here, there are some minor issues around job employments but we are ticking over OK."

He said this year the Government had made some strong commitments to Maori communities.

"I think the big thing out of this Waitangi Day is the effort we are making out of the Ngapuhi situation, and the commitments our prime minister has highlighted today."

Prime Minister John Key offered the Northland-based iwi an interim financial payment as incentive to settle quickly.

WAITANGI CROWDS GROWING IN THE SOUTH

Swarms of visitors were welcomed on to the Otakou Marae in Dunedin in brilliant sunshine for the south's Ngai Tahu Treaty of Waitangi celebrations.

Hundreds poured into the marae, the welcome coming from local Ngai Tahu gathered outside Otakou Marae's ornate meeting house, Tamatea.

Otakou is near one of three locations, which also include Te Rau Aroha Marae, at Bluff, and Onuku Marae, on Banks Peninsula, where Ngai Tahu signed the Treaty in 1840. Each year the Ngai Tahu Waitangi Day commemorations rotate between the three.

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Runanga chairman Edward Ellison emphasised Ngai Tahu's pleasure so many had turned out for the festival.

"It's getting bigger and bigger, I can see," he said.

In recent years, organisers have encouraged the community to come to the event in keeping with Ngai Tahu's wish to build partnerships and relationships in the community to its far flung corners, he said.

On behalf of guests, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull delivered an eloquent kaikorero, then translated it into English.

"To my noble chiefs that are gathered here, greetings to you all. To the ancestral house Tamatea stand tall. To those who have passed through the veil, go in peace to the unawakening resting place."

Mr Cull said later he put in a fair bit of practice for speech and conceded it was a little nerve- racking.

"For those of who haven't spent a great deal of time on a marae and are not fluent in te reo, it's a challenge, but it's a matter of respect for the host people and I'm delighted to give it a go."

Mr Cull said yesterday was about strengthening the relationship between the mana whenua in the Dunedin community and the community as a whole.

"The original face of this community and this place was the mana whenua," he said. "So, it's about building that relationship.

"The crest of Dunedin has a Maori warrior on one side and a Highlander on the other and that was the partnership that goes back to the formation of the city. It's a matter of building on that and strengthening it," he said.

After the welcome, Mr Cull joined Sir Mark Solomon, kaiwhakahaere of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu in an open discussion about how contemporary Treaty partnerships can support the economic aspirations of regional communities.

Sir Mark indicated communities and officials coming together for the Treaty celebration was as it should be - the norm.

"We are part of the community and we embrace the community and, of course, this is one of our centres where our people are occupied, but we've always had relationships with people, with the [Dunedin City] Council, with all of Dunedin," he said.

- The Southland Times

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