Whānau at Tapuaeharuru Marae were treated to manicures, kapa haka performances, pony rides and a speedboat at Rotomā No. 1 Incorporation's biennial Whānau Day at the weekend.

The Māori incorporation has been harvesting the trees on the land surrounding Lake Rotomā and chief executive Neville King said the whānau who were part of the trust received a payout.

He said while a lot of people received the cash he wanted people to reconnect with the whenua and believed the Whānau Day achieved that.

"A lot of people don't actually come home unless there is a tangi on or something else that is not of a good nature.

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"We want to see the marae as another time to actually celebrate."

Te Hiuwai kapa haka rōpū performing for whānau after recently competing at Te Matatini. Photo / Ben Fraser
Te Hiuwai kapa haka rōpū performing for whānau after recently competing at Te Matatini. Photo / Ben Fraser

This was the fifth Whānau Day for the corporation and King said it got bigger each year.

He said the first event had about 45 people but this year the marae had more than 500 people walk around the grounds.

King said the event was for the owners and those who had never been to the marae before.

"Once we were making lots of profits and we thought how can we let people know what we are doing and to celebrate some of the other aspects of our culture and marae, hence Te Hiku wai are performing.

"A lot of people don't get to see them perform so it is sharing the cultural aspects of our marae that is not just hui."

Davey and Riria Gardiner enjoying the day in the sunshine. Photo / Ben Fraser
Davey and Riria Gardiner enjoying the day in the sunshine. Photo / Ben Fraser

Riria Kataraina Gardiner, also known as Aunty Kath, said the day helped tangata whenua feel close to their hapū, their iwi and their marae.

"They are my father's people, but I live somewhere else now. So I try to bring myself back as often as I can."

She said she was stunned to see many rangatahi "all grown up".

"I have to take my glasses off to recognise them," she laughed.

Her nephew, Davey Gardiner, still lives near the marae.

He said the day brought people of all ages back to their roots.

"We are stronger as a hapū when we get together to remember our past, and our ancestors' labours. They broke in the land, the assets, that we are now able to enjoy."

Shirley Taitatini travelled from Kawerau with her three daughters, aged 2, 4 and 15.

"I want them to attend more family events. My dad is getting to an older age, so I want to make sure the kids know where they come from, and their marae."

Her daughter, Mackeden, said it was the second Whānau Day she had attended.

"I have been looking forward to the family time."

Rotomā No. 1 Incorporation was established in 1908 by the Māori Land Court to administer the 2686 hectares on the shore of Lake Rotomā known as the Rotomā No. 1 Block.