Ngati Kahungunu put on a magnificent Matariki celebration at the Dannevirke Showgrounds on Friday, June11, attracting a crowd of almost 1000, though it was difficult to estimate in the dark.
The crowd started flooding in at 5pm, eager to dine from the many food carts and stalls as well as shop from the craft businesses.
Before them was a smorgasbord of food tastes - paua and whitebait fritters competing with steak and chicken burgers, sausages and tacos, chips and hangi with doughnuts and fudge to satiate those with a sweet tooth.
Inside the produce hall the crafts ranged from clothing to soaps, preserves to jewellery, and they were all busy especially after the first surge of crowd had eaten and the fireworks were an hour away.
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Outside, a huge stage had been erected and throughout the evening MC Hayden Hape introduced a variety of groups and competitions backed by the sound of DJ Friction.
Early on, a 30-strong Te Aute College kapahaka group put on a spectacular mix of waiata and haka that was matched an hour later by the Wharetiti Maori Culture Group.
The stage became the venue for several dance competitions for the youngsters and the awarding of prizes. "Mr Matariki" – Te Rangi Huata – explained to the crowd about the resurrection of Matariki in the Hawke's Bay 12 years ago and its growth to places like Dannevirke.
Meanwhile there was an inaugural kina competition, free to the first 12 competitors who were prepared to race to scoop out the roe of the kina. Three competed at a time – the kina having been pre-opened and the results were based on speed and the cleanness of the roe presented on a plate.
Ultimately, there were finals with Molly Hape and Nicholas Rahui crowned Dannevirke Kina Queen and King, awarded a T-shirt and a bucket of kina each as prizes, but all competitors were winners, getting to eat their roe.
A big outdoor screen was an extra feature keeping the crowd informed – an explanation about Matariki, pictures from a roving camera and, just before the fireworks, the final remembrance service for those who had passed away in the previous year.
A calm, cool and dry evening rewarded the organisers for the huge amount of planning and organisation and the fireworks were spectacular – people making comparisons with big city events. They were viewed from all over Dannevirke and well out into the countryside – a terrific finale for a great evening.