Gathering marks anniversary

By Zaryd Wilson

FUN IN THE SUN: At Pakaitore in the weekend were Te Rongopai McKenzie-Mason, Raylene McKenzie-Mason, Racquel McKenzie, Te Kopere McKenzie, Mihipeka McKenzie-Mason and Te Miringa McKenzie-Mason.
FUN IN THE SUN: At Pakaitore in the weekend were Te Rongopai McKenzie-Mason, Raylene McKenzie-Mason, Racquel McKenzie, Te Kopere McKenzie, Mihipeka McKenzie-Mason and Te Miringa McKenzie-Mason.

Climate change and industry impact on the Whanganui river were concerns raised as Whanganui iwi marked the anniversary of their 1995 occupation of Pakaitore/Moutoa Gardens with two days of festivities.

It was 21 years ago yesterday (February 28) when iwi walked on to the land and set up camp for 79 days.

Yesterday's festivities included music, food, a muay thai display, stalls as people basked in or took shelter from the sun.

Jay Rerekura, who is on the Pakaitore organising committee, said the Saturday was a day of reflection for Whanganui iwi.

"We sat around and had a bunch of discussions about the issues that affect us as an iwi and how we might move forward," he said.

"The main theme was around climate change. We've been looking at the effect of not only climate change but the environmental impact of some of our industry on the river."

He said the Pakaitore anniversary was as much about coming together as iwi as it was remembering the occupation. "This was a place where we stood our ground and we spoke up about confiscation of land," he said.

"Back in 1995 that occupation ripped the scab off in terms of our relationship with the Crown and with local government. If anything, we have learned over the past 21 years how to rebuild our own internal relationships. There's still a long way to go."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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