You can tell there's something big happening in Ōhinemutu when cars pack the streets, parks and verges from the Lakefront to Kuirau Park.
And big it was.
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Thousands made their way to For the Love of the People at Ōhinemutu village yesterday - 180 years after New Zealand's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.
The new commemoration event hosted by Tūnohopū Marae Trust was "a real success" chairwoman Norma Sturley said.
"I actually didn't expect this many ... It is incredible."
She credited the organising team of about half a dozen people, saying she was "just the umbrella".
Sturley said the future of the event would depend on sponsorship, but she had already been approached by people and organisations wanting to be involved next year.
In 2018, Waiariki MP Tāmati Coffey called for Rotorua's Lakeside concert to fall on Waitangi Day due to the absence of a local celebration on February 6 at the time.
For the Love of the People met that need in Rotorua, he said among the crowds yesterday.
"For all of its [Waitangi Day's] blood, sweat and tears that we've had as a country ... We need to acknowledge it in some shape or form. And this is great. This makes me smile, getting everybody together ... because we are one nation, many peoples."
He said New Zealand had "a long way to go in terms of actually honouring the treaty but we need to also celebrate our successes too".
He hoped to see the event return in future, as did Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick.
"I think it's the 'tātau tātau' way ... Multiculturalism is really expressed at the right place and time here. I've been so thrilled."
It was a particularly emotional day for her, also being the birthday of her late husband John who was a prominent Māori lawyer in Rotorua.
"He'll be smiling today."
She thanked the trust and villagers for opening up their back yard to the community.
"It is so appropriate ... Because this is the place we always called 'Parliament' in Rotorua. Big discussions happen here. Today a lot of people are sharing joy and love and that's what we need."
She opened the five-hour event with kaumātua Monty Morrison and Rotorua Lakes Council Te Ahurei cultural adviser Arapeta Tahana, followed by kapa haka performances on stage.
The heart of the village was filled with stalls with kai, tickets to upcoming events, club registrations, mirimiri massage, traditional health products, community organisations and charities and art among the buildings and steaming earth.
The waiata rang out from performers on the stage all day, as did the screams of glee from tamariki playing on the nearby bouncy castles.
By 1pm, 1500 people had already come through just one of the two main entrances.
Kaumātua walked with their sticks and frames, parents walked with their prams, and about midday the parade of nations walked with their flags from all over the world.
Taiwanese Rotorua Lakes councillor Fisher Wang said the parade of locals in cultural dress was "heartwarming".
"Everyone has a smile on their face."
Priscilla Te Hau joined her grandchildren Kyza, 3, and Teina, 2, and their mother Cheylon Te Hau at the children's tent at their marae.
Priscilla said they had seen "a lot of whānau who we don't see on the regular" and likened the event to "healing".
"Today is about reconnection... It's important for them [Kyza and Teina] to know where they come from."
She remembered going to Waitangi with her grandmother for the national day in Northland as a child and hoped her grandchildren would also have early memories of the anniversary.
"We need to learn and understand how to move forward together while still holding onto our mana whenua. As long as the hurt is acknowledged I think we should be able to move on."
Rotorua man Bert Poi enjoyed the kai and entertainment with friends.
He said the country had had "some really bad times" but the event was a "peaceful" acknowledgement.
"It is beautiful. It's a lovely day."
For the Love of the People
The event stemmed from the Aronui Māori Market at the pā in September last year.
The stalls and play areas stretched from the Lakefront to the edge of Utuhina Stream.
They included a live mural display, talks, te teo sessions, cooking demos, a Tū Kaha Jiu Jitsu display, bouncy castles, kūmara planting, digital learning, and a hauora area.
Visitors were taken on tours and waka rides.
Bands, DJs, films and even a fashion show entertained on the stages.
The day opened and closed with karakia.