Waitangi Day hikoi hailed

By Lawrence Gullery


The descendant of a prominent Kahungunu leader who signed the Treaty of Waitangi is asking for the annual hikoi to be revived and fixed as a priority event for next year's national day celebrations in Hawke's Bay.

Kaumatua Jerry Hapuku, Havelock North, is the great grandson of Te Hapuku Te Ika Nui o Te Moana, one of the prime Kahungunu rangatira who signed the Treaty when the Crown brought it to the Bay on June 23, 1840.

Mr Hapuku, 73, was among about 30 people who walked 10km from Waipatu to Clive, as part of the Waitangi Day hikoi.

They were welcomed into Clive's Farndon Park by Te Aute College students at the Waitangi Family Festival. Ngati Kahungunu Iwi held its Waitangi National Day event at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park in Hastings.

Mr Hapuku said the hikoi once attracted big numbers when Ngati Kahungunu Iwi led it but participation had reduced over the past couple of years.

"It's really important we carry this on so that our mokopuna are still doing the hikoi when we are gone.

The hikoi to Waipureku, that's the Maori name for Clive, is important also because it is where the Treaty was signed.

Mr Hapuku said there were no Waitangi Day celebrations when he was a boy and it was something that was introduced as he came into adulthood.

"It was just another working day. But as I got a bit older and heard about what Waitangi Day was about, I thought, this is what our national day is all about.

"What I hope people get out of today is that this is a significant day for all New Zealanders.

"I explained to my mokopuna [grandchildren] last night what Waitangi Day is all about and it is something we need to instigate into our schools and families."

Free rides of the waka taua, Nga Tuke Mata O Kahungunu on the Clive River was a big hit with visitors to Farndon Park while Wellington reggae band Tomorrow People attracted large numbers to the Waitangi National Day event at the regional sports park in Hastings.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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