While some were out hunting pests, other people enjoyed traditional and contemporary kai at the Whanganui River Hunting and Wild Food Festival at Kaiwhaiki Marae.

Event managers Chris Kumeroa, of Aotearoa Hunt Nation, and Kahurangi Simon, of Kaiwhaiki Pā Trust, said about seven months' planning had gone into the three-day event held on April 26-28 and about 50 volunteers had helped run it.

The festival, started by Kumeroa and Daryn Te Uamairangi in 2012, is held at a different Whanganui River marae each year, with the money generated going back to the host marae.

"We have 48 families living at Kaiwhaiki Marae," Simon said.

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"The whole event is about encouraging our whānau to come home, learn intergenerational knowledge around food gathering and preparation and just coming together."

About 100 hunters from as far afield as Kaipara, Gisborne and Hawke's Bay took part, as individuals or teams, in the hunting competition which began on Friday and ended with the weigh-in on Sunday afternoon.

Kumeroa said all the hunted animals, including deer, pigs, hares, rabbits, possums and magpies, were pests.

"We're trying to do our part for conservation," he said.

"We do the team competition because we want our families to go out and hunt together.

"There's a much broader meaning than a hunting competition. We're connecting people with the land and we want to start to connect our rangatahi [young people] to our land blocks."

More than $10,000 of prizes were up for grabs and the organisers thanked local sponsors who had contributed.

Cedric Nepia, of Te Puni Kokiri, which is one of the event sponsors, said the festival brought people together and was also an opportunity to show off some culinary delights.

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"A lot of the food at the stalls is kai our older people don't get any more and the young people don't know how to cook it," Nepia said.

"It's a dying art, how we gathered and prepared food in the old days."

More than 80 people took part in a firearms safety and licensing course on Saturday, with 78 of them completing the New Zealand Police firearms licence test and practical assessment.

Firearms Safety Specialists director Nicole McKee said it was the biggest group her company had delivered training for.

"We encourage everyone to come in and participate so they get firearms safety knowledge," McKee said.

"The youngest was 12 so she's not eligible for a firearms licence and we had elders from the community as well.

"There are a lot of hunters on the awa so it's important to learn about firearms safety. We like to teach them young so they have good safety habits for when they grow up and start using firearms themselves.

"It's good to be able to do it on the marae, in their own environment. We had four police officers who helped out and it's good to have them here in a supportive role, not an enforcement role."

The weekend's activities, which attracted several hundred people, included entertainment from kapa haka and contemporary groups and a separate area for children's activities, including a bouncy castle, art table, hair braiding and face painting.

People enjoyed the chance to catch up for a chat and to check out the food stalls.
People enjoyed the chance to catch up for a chat and to check out the food stalls.
Nicole McKee, of Firearms Safety Specialists, provided firearms education for more than 80 people.
Nicole McKee, of Firearms Safety Specialists, provided firearms education for more than 80 people.
Willie Matthews and Lynaire Simon entertain the crowd.
Willie Matthews and Lynaire Simon entertain the crowd.
MC Pirihira Cribb's role was to make everyone feel welcome.
MC Pirihira Cribb's role was to make everyone feel welcome.
Marcus Hatu-Turner applies a temporary tattoo to Teaio Heremia, 9.
Marcus Hatu-Turner applies a temporary tattoo to Teaio Heremia, 9.
Spectators start to gather as the hunters begin to return for the weigh-in.
Spectators start to gather as the hunters begin to return for the weigh-in.
Children got creative in the art and craft activity area.
Children got creative in the art and craft activity area.
The first deer arrives at the weigh-in.
The first deer arrives at the weigh-in.
The tamariki hunting section for under-16s included categories for magpies, hares/rabbits and possums.
The tamariki hunting section for under-16s included categories for magpies, hares/rabbits and possums.
Volunteers line up with rabbits for the weigh-in.
Volunteers line up with rabbits for the weigh-in.