Hunters will be heading for the hills this weekend as the Whanganui River Hunting & Wild Food Festival begins.

This year the festival will be hosted by Kaiwhaiki Marae where the hunting competition will begin on Friday and the festival will run until Sunday evening.

"It is considered a great family outing with a small gate charge for access," says event manager Chris Kumeroa.

The festival is based on the whakataukī or proverb "haha kai rau, kai tangata" - the hunting of many different sources of food, a testing ground for the willing.

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"This hunting and food festival concept is designed to galvanise direct relationships between the people, the awa and the land.

"The hunting is a by-product of reconnecting the people, at whānau, hapū, iwi and pan-tribal level."

With that aim in mind and the intention of raising funds for Whanganui marae, Kumeroa formed a small steering committee with Daryn Te Uamairangi to initiate the first competition in 2012.

That first competition raised $5000 for Atene Marae and each year, the amounts raised have increased with Paweka Marae raising more than $12,000 last year.

Kumeroa says this year's competition has been six months in the planning with meticulous attention to safety, professional hunting guides on hand and traffic control.

"The hunting competition will duplicate previous years with weigh-in for pigs, fallow and red deer.

"Possums, magpies, rabbits and feral goats will also be a part of the programme which aids in pest eradication and pest control for the iwi and the Department of Conservation."

The food festival on Sunday will include a vast array of stalls selling wild foods, traditional kai, barbecues and sweet treats.

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There will be plenty of entertainment for children with a bouncy castle, face painting, rides, a tug of war and waterslides.

"Children will also have opportunities to compete in the pig carry competition and possum throwing contest.

"We want them to feel part of the wider experience and have the urge to participate in the years to come."

To find out more visit the Whanganui River and Hunting & Wild Food Festival Facebook page or contact event co-manager Kahu Simon on 021 715 - 793, email mokuwhanau@gmail.com. Entry forms for the hunting competition are available at Wilsons Hunting and Outdoors, 222 Victoria Ave, Whanganui. Entry price on Sunday $5.