The annual Raukotahi Marae Waka Ama Challenge on the majestic Whanganui River is a celebration of what has been, what is now and what is to come.
Organiser Seletar Taputoro said the Raukotahi Waka Ama Marae Challenge had become an annual event on all marae calendar that allowed uri (descendants) of Te Awa o Whanganui to come together and celebrate our awa, our Whanganuitanga and our competitive nature all in one day.
"This year we have 10 marae competing and six kura," Taputoro said.
"The challenge is a great event to give the six schools more experience ahead of the National Secondary Schools Waka Ama Sprints next month in Rotorua.
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"We are racing on Saturday because it is Pākaitore Day on Sunday, so it will be a wonderful weekend of celebration for iwi.
"Waka ama is only a vessel to unite our iwi and anyone can participate regardless of experience, age, fitness level, or size," Taputoro said.
"Bringing uri home to represent our whānau, marae, hapū and iwi and parading the banks of Te Awa Tupua with a rainbow of coloured T-shirts is one of the highlights of the day."
Taputoro said the term "Raukotahi" stemmed from the way in which elders remind the youth of the next generation of who, and what, contributes to their make-up – and in this way: haramai /haere atu koe i to Raukotahi - kei muri i a koe, kei mua i a koe , kei o taha to Rarangi Matua. Come and go not as a singular identity but as one who is a culmination of all those who were before you, all those that stand at your side and all those who will follow after you.
The event is next to Kowhai Park on the eastern banks of the river. Lower Kowhai Park Rd immediately next to the river will be closed between 8am and 5pm to accommodate the large number of competitors and spectators anticipated.