Ngapuhi Festival 2016

New Zealand’s biggest tribe celebrated all things Ngapuhi with a two-day festival in Kaikohe which wrapped up on Sunday night with a mass haka and a performance by X-Factor winner Beau Monga. The crowd was well down on previous festivals in 2012 and 2014, which drew an estimated 40,000 people, but there was no faulting the kai or entertainment ranging from rock to opera. Saturday’s acts included ‘‘Maori cowboy’’ Dennis Marsh, reggae band Rootz Kinekt, home-grown opera singer Kauwiti Selwyn, X-Factor finalists Brendon T and the Vibes, and singer-songwriter Troy Kingi; but the highlight was a production by 72 young Ngapuhi telling the tribe’s history — from Pacific origins to present-day concerns about the TPPA — through dance, drama, song and kapa haka. The young performers created the show in a series of intensive workshops run by Tu Ake Productions. Conditions ranged from searing 30C heat, making the Kaikohe police water slide popular with the kids, to light rain on Saturday and Sunday evenings. An exhibition of work by top New Zealand artists of Ngapuhi heritage, Toi Ngapuhi, featured a section dedicated to renowned ceramic artists Manos Nathan and Colleen Waata-Urlich, both of whom passed away last year. This year’s Ngapuhi Festival was the first to be live-streamed so the tribe’s worldwide diaspora could follow the action in Kaikohe via the internet. Photos by Peter de Graaf.

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