The biennial Ngāpuhi Festival has been postponed until 2021 prompting mixed reactions from members of the Northland iwi.
Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi O Ngāpuhi confirmed a decision was made in June to set the next festival in 2021, instead of 2020 as expected.
While the decision was made six months ago, the Advocate has been unable to find any sign it has been announced publicly by the rūnanga.
The popular festival is a biennial celebration of culture, kai, and music which usually attracts about 30,000 to 40,000 people. Last year the festival was held in Whangārei but traditionally it has been held in Kaikohe since 2005, except for 2011 when it was held in Auckland.
The flagship Toi Ngāpuhi Māori Arts Exhibition has also been put off until 2021.
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A spokeswoman for the rūnanga said the decision to postpone the festival was partly based on hosting large events including sports awards, its annual general meeting and the National Iwi Chairs Forum. Budgets and availability of staff were also cited.
She said the rūnanga had yet to set a date in 2021 for the festival.
The decision comes at a tumultuous time for Ngāpuhi, after the resignation of Raniera (Sonny) Tau as chairman of the rūnanga. It also comes amid speculation over Ngāpuhi's Tūhoronuku mandate and its ability to negotiate the iwi settlement with the Crown.
Hinerangi Himiona, of Te Uri Taniwha descent, said she wasn't too "down in the mouth" about the decision.
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"We've got a lot of fixing up to do and it doesn't actually feel like we've got a huge amount to celebrate. There's absolutely potential for us to do some really hard work over the next year."
Himiona said it didn't feel right to have a festival with Tau's resignation as chairman of the rūnanga, expected announcements from Minister of Treaty Negotiations Andrew Little, and an election next year.
She said there were "wonderful things" to celebrate outside the iwi politics and challenges but there was work to do first.
"In terms of our inner Ngāpuhi house, we've got some putting back in to order that we need to do and for me it doesn't really feel like we should necessarily be having a festival when our whare is in disarray.
"I don't mean to disregard all of those people that are really interested in the whanaungatanga side of the festival, but we really need to fix some things up. So let's keep doing it, but let's do it when our house is in order."
Nicki Wakefield, of Ngāti Hau descent, said she only recently found out about the postponement of the festival. She had been expecting it would happen in 2020.
"I was thinking of our marae [Pehiaweri] who use it as a fundraiser. It's a shame that our marae won't be able to go and do some fundraising."
She said the Ngāpuhi Festival was popular for whānau.
"It's huge and we don't have, other than Waitangi Day, many family-friendly events for whānau to go along to and celebrate who we are so it's a real shame it's been put off for quite a long time. They could have downsized the event if it was too hard."