IDEA: Should the annual Lakeside concert become a local Waitangi celebration? PHOTO/FILE A_130317sp9.JPG

A lack of Waitangi Day events in Rotorua has prompted city leaders to call for Rotorua's annual Lakeside concerts to be made a local celebration on February 6.

Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey said he had been "banging on" about New Zealand needing to better celebrate Waitangi Day for years and he thought Rotorua should lead the way.

He was suprised there was nothing significant in Rotorua to celebrate the day.

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Tamati Coffey
Tamati Coffey

"Why is there nothing? In Rotorua we have a responsibility to have an occasion, something where people can come together, celebrate, talk, korero."

He said while there used to be a great celebration in the Whakarewarewa Village a few years ago, nothing had taken its place.

Coffey said he had gone as far as to "float some conversations" about making the annual Lakeside concert Rotorua's Waitangi Day celebration.

"Let's pull the date back and have it on Waitangi Day. Lakeside is a celebration locally, that's what Lakeside does. There could be a future in that and we can make it a big celebration."

He has the support of Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick, who is a member of the Lakeside Concert Charitable Trust, which runs the annual concerts.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick

She said in her role on the trust she had asked it to consider changing the date to Waitangi weekend.

"We do need to do something in our community."

Lakeside Concert Charitable Trust chairman Ian Edward said he was open to considering the idea.

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"Lakeside is about us. It's an inclusive celebration and it's not about any one sector. It is for all of us. Whatever we do, I would be looking to the people to give us direction."

Ian Edward
Ian Edward

Edward said if it did become a Waitangi Day event in future, there could be some practical issues.

"The availability of equipment might be a problem, for stage, lighting and sound because gear is at a premium on this date in other centres."

Te Arawa kaumatua Sir Toby Curtis agreed Rotorua should celebrate better.

"If we are to be a unified and caring society, we need to do something in terms of Waitangi. I think Te Arawa and the lakes council should be planning something every year."

Sir Toby Curtis
Sir Toby Curtis

Sir Toby said making Lakeside a Waitangi Day event wasn't a bad idea.

"I suppose it can be done and there's nothing wrong with considering that. I suspect Lakeside is a weekend event though but it wouldn't hurt to try it."

Sir Toby said Rotorua didn't do too many things that involved both Maori and Pakeha working together.

"Maori do a lot of positive things and Pakeha do a lot of positive things but it's almost like never the twain shall meet.

"It's not like we don't have racists in Rotorua because we do but a majority of Pakeha are at ease with Maori and I think it would be great to celebrate the good things we have done together."

Rotorua MP Todd McClay said Rotorua should have a Waitangi Day event and the Lakeside idea was worth thinking about.

"The event at Whakarewarewa Village held over a number of years was excellent. It was very well attended and had a real family spirit to it as the Ngongotaha Fair also did."

Rotorua MP Todd McClay
Rotorua MP Todd McClay

McClay said Waitangi Day had become New Zealand day for many.

"They choose to spend time with family and friends and enjoy the great things about our country. Whether it's called Waitangi or New Zealand Day is less important than the country respectfully celebrating. I think Rotorua should have an event but it should also be led by the community, should be free and should be fun."