Parikino Marae came alive on Sunday with the return of hunters and their prizes, and with food and families.

The Whanganui River Hunting and Wild Food Festival was a great success, organiser Chris Kumeroa said.

It raised $6000 to $10,000 for the marae and pulled in nearly twice as many sponsors and more family members to support it.

"We've had lots of feedback from our own kaumatua.


"It was very enjoyable and brought the marae alive for us all."

On Friday 120 hunters in 23 teams set forth into the hills. On Sunday they returned, with six red stags, 30 fallow stags, five pigs, about 15 possums and several rabbits, hares and magpies.

The winning hunting team was Jahrusalem, hunting in its own Jerusalem area. Members won a $1500 rifle and boots.

Celebrity hunter Matua Parkinson and his sons were assigned the Paetawa block, linked to his family heritage.

"He managed to secure himself a couple of animals."

The biggest stag was from the Raetihi area, killed by the Peina team.

Children from Matahiwi and Pipiriki took out the possum prizes and those with adult supervision won six high-powered slug guns.

The sponsors who were assigned the prized Papahaua block saw hundreds of deer.

"They couldn't get over the amount of animals there. They've never seen so much deer and they want to go back again."

Another big prize was a $1200 ta moko (traditional tattoo) from Parikino man Hemi Te Peeti, now based in Turangi.

On Saturday the Whakatupato firearm safety programme was run at the marae. Mr Kumeroa said 20 students took part and all of them passed.

Weather was perfect and food sold well despite the non-appearance of the food truck booked to come.

The task of holding next year's festival has been handed over to the people of Jerusalem, 66km from Whanganui.