THE theme for Te Anau’s Waitangi Day celebrations was e waka eke noa (all in this journey together) and this was evident from the crowd of locals and visitors who came to mark the day.
Master of ceremonies was Sonny Tonihi, of Invercargill, and the day began with a traditional Maori welcome where Omeka Raimona, of Invercargill’s Nga Hau e Wha Marae, issued the wero (challenge) to New Zealand Rugby cultural adviser and mentor Mihaere Emery.
Waitangi Day Te Anau committee spokeswoman Joy Crouchley said numbers were down but the brilliant weather and variety of entertainment and activities made for a wonderful family day out.
The Nga Hau e Wha whanau entertained the audience, along with award-winning singer-songwriter Jenny Mitchell and her two sisters Nicola and Maega.
Valley Bluegrass, of Dunedin, delivered an authentic bluegrass experience with the banjo, fiddle, guitar and upright bass.
Mararoa School pupils made an inaugural appearance on stage with a re-enactment which walked attendees through key events in New Zealand’s history European times to the establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975.
The pupils wrote the re-enactment, Keys to our History, and were assisted by Ms Crouchley.
An informal discussion with guest speakers was held on Saturday evening including Christchurch architect and designer Quentin Roake, who built the traditional waka which people had the opportunity to try out on Lake Te Anau during the weekend, former Maori All Black Callum Bruce, of Te Anau, Mr Emery and Otago Polytechnic Maori curriculum and culture director Ron Bull.
On Sunday, Murihiku Maori rugby hosted an E tu Toa programme for people keen to learn tikanga Maori through rugby.
“People had opportunities to make their own poi or to weave a flax flower as well as watch master weavers at work,” Ms Crouchley said.
“The fire brigade water slide was a huge hit given the hot weather.”