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Auckland: New Life Into Waitangi Day Celebrations

Ngati Whatua o Orakei
Auckland City Council
Joint media release
3 January 2008

Partnership breathes new life into Waitangi Day celebrations

For the first time in Auckland's history, local iwi Ngati Whatua o Orakei and the Auckland City Council will host the city's first free Waitangi Day celebration.

Waitangi Day Festival '08 will be held at Okahu Bay - a historical site where in 1841 Ngati Whatua o Orakei welcomed Governor Hobson, gifting to him all of the land which now makes up Auckland's CBD.

Now, 167 years on, Okahu Bay will once again be a site of celebration. Waitangi Day Festival '08 will be a family event rich in tradition, culture, food, art and live entertainment. A waka-themed playground and childrens rides will add to the whanau focus of this inaugural festival - making it the family outing of this summer.

Rangimarie Rawiri, secretary of the Ngati Whatua o Orakei Maori Trust Board, says the event is an outcome of the historically positive relationship developed between the council and Ngati Whatua o Orakei over the management of Bastion Point.

"It will be a momentous occasion for our people and all Aucklanders to begin acknowledging the joint founding of this nation and this city," she says.

The event will be alcohol and smoke-free and Ngati Whatua has also adopted a zero-waste policy for the event, showing their commitment to nurturing the land and sea. A large team of volunteers will be at the event, educating visitors about what they can do to reduce waste. Ngati Whatua o Orakei encourages all those who attend to have a "pack-in, pack-out" attitude, disposing of their own waste properly at home.

Rawiri says it is hoped the event will continue for years to come and become a part of the cultural fabric of Auckland city.

Councillor Greg Moyle, chairperson of Auckland City Council's Arts, Culture and Recreation Committee, says the time is right for an event that recognises the significance of the Treaty signing and the broader relationship between the council and Ngati Whatua.

"Waitangi Day presents an unrivalled opportunity for the Auckland community to celebrate and acknowledge our Maori culture and heritage," says Mr Moyle.

"This is the first event of its kind and scale to be staged in Auckland and we're excited about the opportunities it presents."

The festival will begin at 9am with the arrival of key dignitaries via classic sailing yachts at Okahu Bay. Ngati Whatua o Orakei will welcome guests with a traditional powhiri and all members of the public are invited to participate in the official welcome.

The entertainment will kick off at 11am and will include Ardijah, Ben Lummis, House of Shem and Cornerstone Roots.

The event is also being supported by the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, and those who travel to the event by bus will go in a draw to win prizes.


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