Waitangi Day will be different for Whanganui this year - with no celebration of any kind planned.

For the last 10 years Jay Rerekura and others have organised a celebratory day with music, kapa haka and some speeches at Pakaitore/Moutoa Gardens. He said he picked the job up from a previous Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority team.

"I just jumped on board because otherwise no one would have picked it up."

He used to apply to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage for event funding. And he was quite often challenged at his Nga Tai o Te Awa job about whether he should be organising the event.

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This year he talked to the new manager of Awa FM, Panapana Pene, who wanted to take it on. But there was a "miscommunication" and the deadline for funding applications went by with no application made.

The result is no gathering at the gardens, and Mr Rerekura is feeling "a bit guilty". He thinks there should be something.

"I'm a little bit like 'I shouldn't have let it go'."

He and Miss Pene plan to combine forces next year, and have been talking about what sort of occasion to have - they want more emphasis on history and raising awareness, and less on a generic celebration.

"I feel we have lost the essence of what Waitangi is all about," Miss Pene said.

However, the Rotary Club of Wanganui did apply for funding this year.

It got $1000 from the ministry and - according to the ministry website - intended an event at Castlecliff School Te Kura o Kokohuia today featuring a documentary, kapa haka, food stalls and Maori arts and crafts.

Club president Lei Graham said it had intended to run the event in conjunction with the Matipo Community Development Charitable Trust but teachers from the school were now not available to help.

The Matipo trust's new chairman Carlos Rippon said nothing would now be done for Waitangi Day and, instead, the trust was planning an open day at its community garden in Matipo St so people could see its good work.

Anyone can apply for funding to hold a Waitangi Day event, and Miss Pene and Mr Rerekura want to pull in a range of organisations next year - Whanganui District Council, its youth committee, the Alexander Heritage Library, Nga Tangata Tiaki, the Tupoho runanga (council), her radio station and Nga Tai o Te Awa.

"Next year will be a whole different ballgame," Miss Pene said.

Mr Rerekura would support some sort of commemoration of New Zealand's Land Wars as well.

"I like the discussion around all of that. It would be quite timely. We commemorate a lot of those things and they play a big part on much of our country."

-There are other Waitangi events in the region tomorrow. Patea has its Paepae in the Park, and Nga Iwi o Mokai Patea are organising an event at the Taihape showgrounds. In Palmerston North Te Manawa Museum & Gallery is holding its fifth consecutive Waitangi Day event. It will have a puppet show, hangi food and a talent quest.

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