A Te Hui Ahurei a Tūhoe event that was expected to draw thousands this Easter has been cancelled amidst coronavirus safety concerns.
Up to 15,000 people were expected to attend the festival in the Bay of Plenty community of Waimana this Easter weekend.
First held in Rotorua in 1971, the biennial festival was established by John Rangihau to strengthen the identity of urban Tuhoe and for Tūhoe descendants to join together on the stage and sporting field.
It was a way of bringing the iwi together and retain unique aspects of its language and culture among Tūhoe youth.
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Festival events included kapa haka, sport, debates, art and music.
Chair of the tribal committee overseeing the festival Matt Te Pou announced the cancellation today after consultation with iwi members.
"We assessed the public health risk to our people and made this decision to address their safety and contain Covid-19," he said.
He said it was a great disappointment as many people had been working tirelessly and voluntarily to prepare for the festival.
"I want to thank them for their commitment which has always been inspiring.
"But our decision is a critical step in Aotearoa-New Zealand's response to keep transmission rates of Covid-19 low and Tūhoe will protect its own communities by doing so."
The festival will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022.