Waitangi hikoi going ahead

By Patrick O'Sullivan

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This year's Waitangi Day hikoi from Waipatu Marae will bypass Clive and continue to the site where the Treaty was signed.
This year's Waitangi Day hikoi from Waipatu Marae will bypass Clive and continue to the site where the Treaty was signed.

The Waitangi Day hikoi from Hastings' Waipatu Marae will continue, despite the cancellation of this year's Waitangi Day Family Festival in Clive.

"We are culturally, ethically and morally bound to keep that going," hikoi organiser and Hastings District Councillor Henare O'Keefe said.

Last year, about 200 people took part in the hikoi, with the starting point significant as the venue of the first meeting staged by the Maori Parliament in 1892.

This year, the hikoi will bypass the Family Festival site in Clive's Farndon Park and continue on to Waitangi Estuary in Awatoto, where the treaty was signed.

The Hawke's Bay branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists will receive the party in period costume "and put on a cup of tea". A brief ceremony will be held at the site, where Ngati Kahungunu signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

Taking part in the hikoi will be Jerry Hapuku, whose great-great-grandfather was a signatory - Heretaunga chief Te Hapuku.

Hawke's Bay Regional Councillor Rex Graham said a new park was planned for the Treaty-signing site.

"We are putting in a celestial compass with a whole lot of pou [carved wooden posts] - it is a stunning thing we are going to do in the next two years."

Mr O'Keefe said everyone was invited to join the hikoi.

"It is for all people - not just Maori.

"I am saying to people bring your club flag, bring your Rotary flag.

"It is a hikoi of celebration - it is not about grinding an axe. It is about all of us celebrating together, regardless of ethnicity.

"History demands we keep this going."

After the hikoi ceremony Mr O'Keefe said he would attend the annual Ngati Kahungunu celebration at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park in Hastings.

This year's Clive festival was cancelled due to the death of committee member Lily Baker and a serious neck injury by Jim Edwards, who arranged the use of the waka Nga Tukemata O Kahungunu for a re-enactment of the Treaty signing.

His wife, Marie Edwards, said a meeting would be held at the end of this month with Napier City Council and Hastings District Council, with a view to staging the event in 2017.

She is appealing for volunteers.

"Hopefully halfway through the year we will have enough people around us to make it work again."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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