Fancy a paua pie or kina on fry bread? You'd be in luck in you headed down to the Aronui Māori Market.

Walking past you see the "Poi Palace" open up to a stage with a backdrop of Mokoia Island, directly in front of Tūnohopū Marae, surrounded by stalls with artwork and crafts.

The Aronui Māori Market at Ōhinemutu today featured kapa haka and Toi Ohomai music student performances for four hours of a cultural treat.

It was the first time a live concert and indigenous arts market had taken place in the area as part of the Aronui Indigenous Arts Festival.

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The stage was in front of Tūnohopū Marae and live music was constant among laughs and chatter of more than 1000 people, constantly streaming in and out.

Former Western Heights High School's Te Manaia Jennings, though only 19, has already had her work displayed in eight exhibitions, and it was proudly on display at the Aronui Māori Market.

Te Manaia Jennings is influenced by her Māori heritage in her abstract realism art. Photo / Cira Olivier
Te Manaia Jennings is influenced by her Māori heritage in her abstract realism art. Photo / Cira Olivier

Jennings uses her acrylic paints to tell a story through abstract realism and incorporated Māori culture and women empowerment.

The bright colours and Māori symbolism strategically placed throughout her work was something she said was important for herself as well as the evolving art world.

"My art is a reflection of me," she said and she could not speak of herself without her deep Māori heritage.

Te Manaia Jennings artwork. Photo / Supplied
Te Manaia Jennings artwork. Photo / Supplied

Sticking to more traditional taonga, Rākai Jade, a local collection of artists displayed their skills they had been finessing for the last eight years.

The kaupapa was to re-ignite the historical carvings and "bringing it back to the future", carver Whare Bidois said.

He said no taonga they made was the same and this was because, like a tattoo artist, it was designed in part by the customer.

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"People come in, they give us their korero and what they want and we'll interpret that into a design," he said.

Carver Joel Masters said they would definitely be back for the next market as it was good for everyone, particularly tamariki.

Joel Marsters (left) and Whare Bidois carve traditional taonga at Rākai Jade in Rotorua. Photo / Cira
Joel Marsters (left) and Whare Bidois carve traditional taonga at Rākai Jade in Rotorua. Photo / Cira

"Kids think you only come to a marae for tangis so this is very important," he said.

Wanting her kids to grow up with te reo Māori was partly the motivation for Maia Grant to start a clothing line with her sister.

"We just wanted to help promote te reo Māori and felt like we could normalise it in clothing," Grant said.

The brand, a:m, has only been for less than a year and Grant said people were responding to it well.

Hundreds gather and enjoy the Aronui Māori Market at Ohinemutu. Photo / Stephen Parker
Hundreds gather and enjoy the Aronui Māori Market at Ohinemutu. Photo / Stephen Parker

The sisters both had children and Grant said they wanted to make sure they grew up with the language as part of their life.

Tiaana Anaru said there had been a lot sadness and death recently and it was good to see the mood of the marae lifted.

She said the modern twist on Māori culture was a way of keeping it alive and at the front of people's minds.

It's hard not to smile with a lively performance by Ngāti Whakaue Kapa Haka at Aronui Māori Market at Ohinemutu. Photo / Stephen Parker
It's hard not to smile with a lively performance by Ngāti Whakaue Kapa Haka at Aronui Māori Market at Ohinemutu. Photo / Stephen Parker

"It's great, we have to adapt and it's just another way of showcasing our heritage," she said.