They spoke about aroha and anger, mamai and frustration. They were there to talk about racism.
They were a hīkoi from Ngāti Porou, who travelled six hours from the East Cape to stand in solidarity with members of their iwi, Māori academics at the University of Waikato, who called out institutional, structural and casual racism at the university last month.
They wanted change, a solution and a stop to systemic racism that they personally had experience of at the university spanning decades.
The show of support came as the university undertakes a review into the allegations, conducted by Sir Wira Gardiner and his wife, former National MP Hekia Parata.
The allegations were raised in a 13-page letter to the Ministry of Health by six Māori academics, led by world-renowned Professor of Indigenous Education Linda Tuhiwai Smith.
Their concerns included Māori expertise being ignored, tokenism, lower pay for Māori staff and no meaningful commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi.
On Friday a hundreds-strong group of Ngāti Porou - Tuhiwai Smith's iwi - and their supporters marched with Māori flags onto the university campus to kōrero about the allegations.
They wore purple masks emblazoned with the word "decolonisation" and performed haka and waiata to spread their message.
That message was about standing up to racism, not standing alone, being heard and changing the system for the future - for rangatahi and mokopuna, so they don't experience it.
Māori astronomer Professor Dr Rangi Matamua, who was at the gathering, said he found it liberating and galvanising.
Matamua, who this year received the Prime Minister's Science Communications Prize and has been a leading proponent of making Matariki a public holiday, said the focus was on confronting "some very serious and concerning issues that we believe exist here within the tertiary sector".
"My hope is that the institutions and this institution first and foremost - Waikato University - are willing to accept the fact that there are some significant concerns around systemic and institutional racism.
"And that is something that Māori have been talking about and dealing with for a long time now and it's come to a head."
He wanted the university to accept there was racism, and that its approach to dealing with eradicating all forms of racism was sincere.
"Racism is complex. The kinds of racism we're talking about here is obscure but it's also built into the mechanisms that drive the institution, and people think that it's normal.
"And we shouldn't accept the normalisation of racist structures. We need to call them out and we need to dismantle them and put something in place that is fair and equitable for all people."
Tertiary Education Union branch co-president Vicky Young said the 400 members of the union were "unhappy but also quite fearful of coming out and saying anything".
She said there was disappointment that a western approach was taken in the review, with no kaupapa or hui.
Last year Māori academic staff and students protested when the university proposed to merge the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies with arts, law and psychology.
They won and the faculty remained standalone, but it was one of several examples Young gave of the concerns Māori staff, students and former staff and students share.
A university spokeswoman said the findings of the review would be made public when it was complete. She said the university had no comment to make while the review was underway.
The university previously said it took allegations of racism seriously and if any members of its community had concerns they were encouraged to raise them through the appropriate channel, and in the context of the university's policies and codes of conduct, so the university had an opportunity to investigate them.