This year's Whanganui Puanga celebrations end with a night of Māori-infused world cuisine and a kaumātua kapa haka extravaganza.

Puanga has grown to span three months and overflowed into schools and workplaces, organising committee member Nicole Dryden says.

This year the Ranginui family is catering the Puanga Kai Night on August 23.

The theme is Māori-infused kai of the world, and there's likely to be plenty of seafood. The entertainment will be kapa haka, and kōrero reflecting on Puanga activities of the past.


The venue is the Whanganui Room at Whanganui's racecourse. Tickets sell out fast, but may be available by emailing

The Kaumātua Kapahaka Extravaganza is a new event, on August 25. It's at the Whanganui City College Hall from 1-4pm, with entry by koha.

Those performing will be Ngā Paerangi, Te Taikura o Te Awa Tupua, Whanganui's Kaumātua Kaunihera and a Ratana group.

"We welcome and encourage our community to come and support kaumātua who are doing this to show us these skills," Dryden said.

Karakia at the event will mark the close of Puanga 2019.

It started on June 26, with karakia beside the river at Putiki. More and more people have been coming to that, Dryden said.

"We welcome people to be brave and explore and see."

Timing of the karakia is always decided by the lunar calendar. Leading up to them people reflect on those who have died in the previous year. Those thoughts are released "up into the stars" through tikanga.


Events this year have included an opportunity for new residents to experience a marae welcome. It took place on July 27 at Te Ao Hou Marae, and involved the Multicultural Council of Rangitīkie/Whanganui.

"It's for people new to Whanganui and new to engaging with our marae and it paved the way for those people to be involved in our Māori community."

There have also been holiday programmes run by Whanganui's museum, library and art gallery, and events put on by schools, kohanga reo and workplaces.

"It's grown from a month into three months, driven by people's desire to share their activities at that time."

Next year the organising committee plans to have written material on hand as Puanga begins, giving stories from this region.

The final events are sponsored by Whanganui District Council and the Whanganui Māori Regional Tourism Organisation, the Atihau Whanganui Incorporation, Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui, the Māori Development Ministry and others.