'A day to celebrate being a New Zealander'

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2013
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JONATHAN CAMERON
About 2500 people attended the Waitangi day celebrations at Puke Ariki Landing

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There was a sense of relaxation in the air as people from all walks of life got into Waitangi Day celebrations at New Plymouth's Puke Ariki Landing yesterday.

More than 2500 people filtered through the area between 11am and 1.30pm to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the cultural acts on show.

The festivities opened with a performance from kapa haka group Tutu Kai'ika, followed by contemporary Maori group Te Kohikohinga Kohatu.

Samoan Youth Group La'asaga then gave a lively performance before popular Waitara band Soulovus brought the house down with its reggae beats.

Melissa Devine-Collins, New Plymouth, went down with her family to enjoy the diverse range of music, particularly Waitara band Soulovus, whom she hadn't heard before.

"It's good to see so many people enjoying a free event like this," she said.

"Waitangi Day is all about celebrating being a New Zealander and spending time with your whanau."

Bell Block resident Mataatua Oke said Waitangi Day was all about celebrating the Treaty of Waitangi and connecting people from all cultures.

"It's good to see all the different nationalities here today coming together - Pakeha, Maori, Chinese.

"It's good for our culture in general, it's good for Aotearoa."

New Plymouth District Council acting events manager Tricia Logan said all performers, including MC Ash Haimona, were from Taranaki.

"It's a real local show and we specifically wanted to do that this year. It's good because it means they bring their whanau down and having a good crowd gives the event that festive feel."

As well as entertainment, children were able to create their own Waitangi art, while educators from Te Wananga o Aotearoa were also on hand to answer any questions people had about the Treaty of Waitangi.

Ms Logan said overall the event had been popular, which, in her eyes, made it a success.

"It is a celebration but I think it's more of a commemoration and, as you can see from the crowd, I think the community appreciate the chance to have somewhere to come together and celebrate the day."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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