THOUSANDS of people from throughout Aotearoa and overseas are expected to converge on Waihopai (Invercargill) in November for the first Ngai Tahu Hui-a-Iwi to be held in Murihiku (Southland).
“It puts Ngai Tahu strongly on the top for the whanau of Murihiku,” Hui-a-Iwi committee chairman Cyril Gilroy said.
“It enhances their Ngai Tahutanga and their mana and their whakapapa and their whanau.”
The iwi held the festival every second year to celebrate and share its culture and reconnect with each other.
Titi was the theme for this year’s festival – Ka tangi te Titi, Ka tangi te Kaka, Ka tangi hoki ahau (a call for everyone to come home).
“The beauty of having it here is getting [Ngai Tahu whanau] altogether to enjoy each other and the whole well-being of each others’ company,” Mr Gilroy said.
However, the festival was not exclusively for Ngai Tahu, but rather was open to people of all cultures, he said.
The festival was being hosted by the four Murihiku runanga – Hokonui, Awarua, Waihopai and Oraka Aparima – and co-ordinated by Miharo, formerly the Murihiku Maori and Pasifika Cultural Trust.
Mr Gilroy said they were humbled to have the whanau of Miharo co-ordinating the festival, not just for Ngai Tahu, but for all of Murihiku.
Miharo programme development manager Tania Carran said they wanted to showcase Waihopai.
“We are most excited about putting Murihiku on the map.
“The runanga have the beautiful ideas and we are just helping to make it happen,” she said.
During the festival, there would be kai (food) and heritage craft stalls, kapa haka performances, entertainment, trips to Ruapuke Island, and more.
Mr Gilroy said hosting the festival in Murihiku would benefit the region.
It would provide an opportunity for people who had never been to a Hui-a-Iwi before to attend, as well as economic benefits in terms of hospitality and tourism, with between 2000 and 5000 people expected to attend, he said.
The region’s marae were already fully booked and accommodation in the city was filling up fast, he said.