There was added poignance for organisers of the Waitangi Day Family Festival celebrations in Clive.

Secretary Marie Edwards, her husband Jim and Tom Mulligan have been organising the event for the past 20 years, but 2019 marks their last.

The smell of a good old Kiwi sausage sizzle drifted through the air of a slightly cooler Waitangi Day, but those who attended the event didn't seem to notice as they listened to stage karaoke, enjoyed a ride on the waka or made the most of the stalls, while children squealed in delight on the rides.

A Treaty signing was re-enacted in the early hours of Wednesday morning with a hīkoi led by Hastings District Councillor Henare O'Keefe from the Celestial Compass arriving at the Clive Domain.


Hastings and Napier mayors Sandra Hazlehurst and Bill Dalton attended, along with National MP Lawrence Yule and Labour MP's Stuart Nash and Meka Whaitiri.

A formal welcome was then hosted on the river re-enacting the arrival of European migrants escorted by tangata whenua on the waka and the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Harmony.

"The reason why we came here is because they (Europeans) got off ships on the other side of the bridge, they used to go out through the river mouth and sign the Treaty just out there. This is the reason why we're here - it's significant," Edwards said.

"It's centrally situated between two cities so both of them can have an input. We just so enjoy it and it's very manageable."

Edwards and her husband along with Mulligan organised the event in the year 2000 just to do something for the millennium as she was on the Hastings District Council committee.

"There was absolutely nothing on the day, except us with the waka and we had literally thousands of people here. Then we had to stay until lunch time to give them all a ride and there was no pontoon, so people had to take a flying leap onto it, they got a bit wet, but they wanted a ride so they didn't mind. "

Since the event was so popular, Edwards decided to carry on, adding bit-by-bit as the years went by.

Edwards said they closed the day slightly earlier due to the Mission Concert in Napier as well as low tide.


"I'm just really hoping that the young people will get involved for the events to come, their input is really important as time goes on and I just hope that this wonderful event will continue in our community."

The heavens opened just as the celebrations for the Waitangi Day Family event continued at Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park in Hastings as a spate of heavy rain thundered down sending people sprinting for their cars, diving under the nearest tent or huddling under an umbrella.

But the rain didn't seem to faze others, as a woman in a sodden black dress lead her happy child among the tents to enjoy the rides and hot food.

In its ninth year, the Hawke's Bay Sports Park hosted the celebrations which included hundreds of sports players of all backgrounds playing nines league, touch, netball, 3v3 basketball and ki-o-rahi, a traditional Māori game that has been revived in recent years.

MP Meka Whaitiri spoke at the event, thanking those who had "braved" the weather to enjoy the festivities.

She had visited the Waitangi grounds where the original document was signed.

"Ngāti Kahungunu's presence was well felt up on those Waitangi grounds," she said.

A Waitangi Day ceremony was held to mark 179 years since signing of the Treaty as well as a pōwhiri, anthem and address by iwi and civic leaders.