An autumn afternoon acknowledging the day an Edgecumbe wall breached and filled the town with water has attracted hundreds.
Kotahitanga - Unity from Adversity, was organised by the Edgecumbe community and supported by the Whakatane District Recovery Project to acknowledge the April 6, 2017 flood and its impact on the people of the Rangitaiki Plains town.
Held under a stunning blue sky, people sat on chairs and blankets around the park - reconnecting and chatting while live music belted from the stage and youngsters laughed and yelled as they enjoyed the free activities.
Hosted at a park beside Riverslea Mall, the afternoon started with a karakia before doves were released to symbolise new beginnings for the town.
Edgecumbe resident Dee-Danya Riddiford-Hale add dressed the crowd saying Edgecumbe was a town that had grown through adversity. "Without adversity we would be weak. Edgecumbe has had its fair share of adversity but through it our spirit as a community has grown," Riddiford said.
Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne recapped on events of the flood and said it was with a sense of relief, more than 70 per cent of people affected by the flood were back in their homes. He urged those still struggling to contact the team for help.
"Before I conclude I want to say a huge thank you to a person who has done an amazing job," Bonne said.
"She has been your voice, the voice of the community, and has not faltered in supporting the town."
Edgecumbe Community plan co-ordinator Vicky Richards had a mile-wide grin on her face as the event played out.
"It's a great day," she said. "Really chilled and the kids here are having an awesome time."
Local Edgecumbe band Fling Teddy and X Factor runner-up Whenua Patuwai kept the crowds entertained before a DJ took over and kept the youngsters jumping until the sun started going down.
Prizes were given out as people got comfortable to watch the movie Thor scheduled to play on the big screen until 9pm tonight.
Charelle Stevenson, chairwoman of the Rangitaiki Community Board, said one of the best things about the day was she knew just about everyone there.
"It's a true Edgecumbe day, I'm pretty sure I know just about everyone here," Stevenson said.
Organisers said Kotahitanga was an acknowledgement of the flood, not a celebration, and was about bringing people together for an afternoon on unity.
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