As many as 1000 people packed Otiria Marae, near Moerewa, yesterday for the start of a three-day celebration of all things Ngāti Hine.

The biennial Te Ahuareka o Ngāti Hine Festival continues today with what organisers describe as smorgasbord of entertainment, ranging from kapa haka to hip-hop dance and debates.

The headline act, award-winning singer-songwriter Troy Kingi, is due to take the stage at 4.15pm. Yesterday's programme was dedicated to school kapa haka groups from as far away as Whangārei.

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Organising committee member Pita Tipene said yesterday's atmosphere was ''wonderful''.

''People love the whānaungatanga, the kinship, as well as celebrating who we are and showcasing out skills on stage.''

Mark Kamene-Stowes, 17, from Whangarei, performs a powerful haka with the Te Kapehu Whetu kapa haka group. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Mark Kamene-Stowes, 17, from Whangarei, performs a powerful haka with the Te Kapehu Whetu kapa haka group. Photo / Peter de Graaf

The 2019 festival is themed Kōrerotia te reo o Ngāti Hine (Let's speak the language of Ngāti Hine) and aims to promote the use of the iwi's dialect in everyday conversation.

It ends on Sunday with a rā maumahara (remembrance day) dedicated to Sir James Henare, Ngāti Hine leader and last commander of the 28th Maori Battalion.

In the past the festival has been held in March but a run of bad weather — including a cyclone in 2017 — prompted organisers to shift it to October instead.

The free event also features food stalls, children's rides, information stands from education and training providers, and top tā moko (tattoo) artists at work inside the wharenui.

Otiria Marae is on Kingi Rd, off Otiria Rd just southwest of Moerewa.