Te Puke marked the first Matariki public holiday in style.
Two days of events began with Te Kīwai Mauī (Our Educational Day) on Thursday. Friday was Our Community Day (Te Kīwai Katau) with food, music, kapa haka and a wee bit more education, all at Jubliee Park.
Organisation of the festival was led by community leaders Kassie Ellis as community liaison, Tatai Takuira-Mita, Kāhui Ako across-school leader and deputy principal at Fairhaven School, and Māori policy and engagement adviser Sam Hema from Hemasphere Limited, together with the hapori whānau me ngā tangata whenua.
Te Kīwai Katau concluded with a performance from Ardijah on the Jubilee Park stage.
After plans for an event in 2020 were scrapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the trio were involved in organising a one-day event in 2021.
They all say this year's celebrations - Te Kete Matariki Te Puke 2022 - turned up the dial.
"We learned lessons from the last one and we wanted to make sure we hit the target on everything that we needed to improve on and I think we did," says Sam.
"I was overwhelmed by how many people came, but also not surprised because I think everybody in Te Puke wanted an event like this," says Kassie.
"It was a very humbling experience as well and I'm just very, very grateful to Te Puke and all those that came along and participated in Te Kete Matariki because without our Te Puke public we can't justify an event of this size next year," she says.
"We've set the standard for Matariki events over this side of the district."
About 6500 people attended Friday's event.
"The crowd was great, they responded from 10am till 4pm and stayed with us the whole time," says Sam.
"We had such great responses to the kapa haka stage and our entertainment was top-notch and I think we provided just the right environment for everything to just connect and click all together," says Sam.
Sam is a member of the Matariki Allstars, who performed immediately before Ardijah.
"We enjoyed it and, to be, honest we were inspired by the whole day and that lifted us.
"The stage presentation went up 10 notches and my role from a production point of view was to set a standard and now we can't go down from there."
Interspersed with what was happening on the stages were a series of videos explaining Matariki.
"One of the things we really wanted to do was educate a little bit more, so we had Matariki videos in our programme and we spaced them out, three or four of them, so people could just keep digesting them."
Kassie says there were many people involved in making the day a success.
"I want to do a special acknowledgment to Te Puke Florist, Super Liquor, Te Puke Community Board, the fire brigade and St John as well as Te Puke Art Society for the use of Constables Gallery, Paper Plus, Epic Te Puke and Tarnix Security."
The educational day involved a series of workshops, with all schools within the Te Puke
Kāhui Ako (community of learning) taking part along with several early learning centres.
Tatai says the feedback from the day was really positive.
"I was really rapt. The day was fine, the children were all learning and it was a nice relaxed atmosphere," she says.
" I looked around and you had kids in one corner doing poi, you had kids singing and being involved and there was a good mix of hands-on practical activities and learning about the environment, so I thought that was a good balance."
She was also impressed with the Te Puke High School leaders who acted as navigators.
Tatai says on Friday it felt like the whole of Te Puke had turned up.
"There were lots of people from outside our area too. The vibe was really positive and it had a whānau-community feel.
"I've been getting lots of accolades, but I keep reminding everyone there are lots of layers and there are lots of people that have contributed behind the scenes and I want to acknowledge all the people who contributed in any way to the success of the day."
Students from Fairhaven School's immersion unit, Toitoi Manawa, were among those who helped create a mural on the Te Puke Memorial Pool fence.
"The fence is looking fantastic and it's just another element of the day and something that's a memento of our first public holiday."