'Anything goes' in remote republic

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2013
Whangamomona Republic Day
JONATHAN CAMERON/Fairfax NZ

GAME ON: 2011’s Whangamomona presidential race saw match-fixing, outlandish promises and a standoff between Murt Kennard’s campaign team and Mike Self, aka Willy Wiff the wizard of Manaia.

Hidden Treasures: Whangamomona

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Possum-skinning, whip-cracking and sheep-racing - it's not your average day of defiance.

About 4000 people are expected to descend on Whangamomona this Saturday for its biennial celebration of rebellion.

For 24 years the former Taranaki town has called itself a republic after it was officially made part of the Whanganui-Manawatu region.

Republic Day organising committee secretary Gayleen Coplestone said this year's theme of "Doing it the Whanga Way" meant "anything goes".

"That covers a multitude of things really," she said.

"It's a bit of back-country fun."

There will also be the much-anticipated announcement of Mini Mr and Miss Whangamomona and the republic's new president, be it human, animal or inanimate object.

The Taranaki Daily News understands a mystery man could be current president Murt Kennard's downfall.

No-one in the far-eastern Taranaki town would dare utter the person's name, only saying that he stood a good chance.

Former presidents include Billy the Goat, who reigned from 1999 until his death in 2001, and Tai the Poodle, who stood down in 2004 following an alleged assassination attempt. This year the republic will also be teaming up with the outside world.

The Stratford District Council is offering two buses to and from the event.

Council community development officer Erin Self said they wanted to offer people a chance to get to the republic without having to worry about the journey.

She said those not brave enough to negotiate the stomach-churning bends of the Forgotten World Highway 43 themselves, could sit back and enjoy the view for only $6.

All visitors have to buy a passport or have their old one stamped at the border crossing points to enter the celebrations.

TIMETABLE

(As published in the official programme)

10am start followed by dog trail demo, whip cracking etcetera.

11.30am Gutbuster – a mild run followed by a bloody steep hill.

12.30pm first of the sheep races – running of the bulls, but woollier.

2pm Costume parade, Little Miss and Mini Whanga Man competitions etcetera.

3.30pm Announcement of the new president.

4pm Auction, then gumboot-throwing.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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