The inaugural Matariki Ki Ahipara festival has been deemed a huge success, with the team behind the event welcoming a massive turnout over three days.
Event organiser Lesley Wallace estimated somewhere between 500-1000 people turned out for the various activities throughout the festival, with 200-300 of those taking part in the Hīkoi Hītori to the summit of Whangatauatia maunga (mountain) with Matua John Paitai.
A special art exhibition featuring local artists was also held at the Ahipara Golf Club, as well as a mid-winter ocean swim, traditional Māori games at Roma Marae, sand art at Ahipara Beach, outdoor entertainment and native tree planting at Kororā St Park and more.
Despite the threat of rain, Wallace said all activities went ahead without a hitch and she was very proud of what the team had achieved in just a short amount of time.
"It was really great, everyone was pleased with how there was always something going on and something for everyone," Wallace said.
"The highlight of the festival was definitely the hikoi with Matua John, as not a lot of people have been on that walk, so to get to the top and listen to him kōrero was pretty special.
"We will definitely look at doing this again for next year and review how we can make it even better."
Lennox Goodhue-Wikitera was the project lead for the Ahipara Art Exhibition on Friday night and was supported by Ahipara Aroha to run the event.
He said he was really pleased with the turnout, which had supported both local artists and the golf club.
"We had easy 300 people come through the doors between 3-6pm and ended up selling $2000 all up for the artists which was awesome," he said.
"The Ahipara Golf Club also had its bar open, so it did well on the night too.
"I'm really happy with how everyone in Ahipara worked together throughout the festival to support each other and make it all happen.
"I hope to see a lot more of this kind of thing moving forward."
Goodhue-Wikitera said he hoped to hold a similar art exhibition event sometime in January during the summer holidays.
This year was the first year for Matariki to be celebrated as a national public holiday, with cities around the motu (country) celebrating the Māori New Year in their own way.