Thousands enjoy day of culture, food, fun

By Cherie Taylor

Thousands of people of all ages flocked to Whakarewarewa for a traditional taste of Maori culture blended with the more modern as Whakanuia helped them celebrate Waitangi Day.

From young children to the older generation - locals and visitors alike - it was a day packed with culture, food and fun for everyone who headed along to celebrate the special day.

When The Daily Post arrived at the traditional living Maori village in Rotorua, the car park was full of food and craft stalls with people sitting around eating and chatting and children having a go at free activities including craft work.

Dozens of people stood on the bridge at the entrance to the village watching a group of young Te Arawa children coin diving - a tradition in the area for decades.

Stilt walkers towering above the crowd in colourful garments and the sounds of drummers and music resounding across the village mingled with the different smells of food cooking.

Even more people sat outside the marae watching dancers on the stage as others walked through the village checking out the geothermal sights.

Rotorua teenager Aqua Hill said she was most impressed with the special day as the event pulled people of different cultures together.

"What a great day. This sort of thing brings people together as one," said the 13-year-old.

"It's so good to see the two cultures collided together awnd enjoying the day together without any anger or drama.

"This is what Waitangi Day should always be like," she said.

Michelle Gardiner headed along with 5-year-old son Jason and said she was also impressed.

"It's just been awesome. I live here and it's so good to see all these people come together as one."

Rotorua grandmother Phyllis Tangitu was part of the Tuhourangi Ngati Waiao kapa haka group to take to the stage during the opening ceremony and spent time with her grandchildren checking out the activities.

"It's been just fantastic. This is an amazing event for Waitangi Day. It pulls families together. Look around, there are people celebrating with whanau and the community."

Rotorua's Tui Ranapiri-Ransfield said Whakarewarewa was the ideal setting for such a celebration.

"It's perfect ... Look at all the people out enjoying themselves. You have babies, children, young people, parents, grandparents, kuia, people of all ages out enjoying themselves and celebrating Maori culture."

Organisers were also impressed with the turnout. Village Tours marketing co-ordinator Renee Raimona said it had "exceeded all expectations".

"It just gets bigger and better every year ... it's been all go since 6am," she said. "It's just great to see so many people out and celebrating Waitangi Day - especially all the kids."


- Rotorua Daily Post

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