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The country's biggest Maori tribe - Northland's Ngapuhi - turned up in force for their annual festival in Kaikohe at the weekend.

The two-day event, launched last year, showcased the tribe's musicians, artists and speakers, with aim of celebrating Ngapuhi culture and attracting home many from outside tribal boundaries.

Ngapuhi is the country's most populous iwi, with more than 100,000 members. Over 60 per cent live outside the region.

Event organiser Diana Heka was overwhelmed by the support for the event, which attracted iwi members from around the country, and from Australia. About 12,000 attended.

She said Saturday night's concert featuring reggae band Katchafire had been a highlight.

Local businesses have credited the event with attracting thousands of visitors to the town. Kaikohe retailer Daxa Patel said the festival meant trade was brisk at her shop, Tui's Superette.

"We have had customers from Auckland, from everywhere. Kaikohe is getting famous," she said.

Ngapuhi chairman Sonny Tau hoped the positive theme of the event would set the tone for this year's Waitangi commemorations, which begin next weekend.