Putting fun, festivity into Waitangi Day

By Cleo Fraser

Controversy aside, Waitangi Day is a time to celebrate who we are. And that's just the kaupapa (meaning) behind a free event hosted by iwi on Friday, expected to draw crowds of up to 5000.
The annual Waitangi Day Community Festival 09 Mount Maunganui runs from 12-6pm at Whareroa Reserve on Taiaho Place. The reserve will come alive with music and dance thanks to Ngaiterangi iwi and friends. This event follows the public Waitangi Day Dawn Service on Mauao which runs from 5.30am to 8am.
Music ranges from hip hop, blues and kapa haka and includes performances by Luke Thompson, Regan Perry, The Mellow Drops, Nytmare, The Blackout Kru _ former national breakdance champions _ and DJs Mickel and Sharmin.
Kapa haka group Te Kapa Haka o Ngati Ranginui _ the only team from Tauranga Moana competing at Te Matatini Kapa Haka Festival from February 19-22 _ will give one of their last public performances before the nationals. Kai and crafts will be on offer.
Friends and whanau are encouraged to bring along their swim gear and enjoy Tauranga Harbour. Surf lifeguards will be on hand.
Ngaiterangi Iwi operations manager Paul Stanley said the event aimed to bring people together to celebrate Waitangi Day in a positive way.
"The theme of this event is about celebrating the history of our nation in a festive way, in an area that's special to us, hence its location in the reserve behind Whareroa Marae," he said.
"The event attracts young people as well as older people, differing ethnicities, tourists and many locals. It's a great atmosphere, with people bringing their picnic blankets and sun umbrellas to have a fun time."
Event organiser Tim Cooper said about 5000 people were expected at the reserve this year.
The event has been running since 2005 and drew in crowds of about 3000 last year.
Gates open from 11am.

The event runs from 12-6pm at Whareroa Reserve, Taiaho Pl, off Totara St. For directions visit www.ngaiterangi.org.nz. Parking is available at the reserve for $2 with money raised going to Te Kapa Haka o Ngati Ranginui. All are welcome to the Waitangi Day Dawn Service on Friday. Meet at 5.30am at Pilot Bay boat ramp. A karakia, open forum and haka performance will be held at the top of Mauao.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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