Māori music on trend at Auckland's viaduct

By Peata Melbourne
  • Auckland

Local tribes are stamping their identity on Auckland city showcasing the Māori culture in every shape and form during the city's annual anniversary.

Tens of thousands took part in the Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival this year celebrating being Māori, the only event where all thirteen iwi and hapū of Auckland collaborate to put on a festival showcasing contemporary and traditional Māori art forms.

Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) General Manager Destination Vivien Sutherland-Bridgwater says there's a huge commitment from Auckland Council and ATEED to continue the funding to make it happen in partnership with Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective.

"The whole weekend, like Matariki, we go this is Māori, the whole city is celebrating being Māori," says Sutherland-Bridgwater.

Only its second year running, the festival this year moved to the viaduct from the cloud, attendees this year doubling in figures estimated to draw around 30,000 people over the three days.

"There's a larger number of Pākehā coming in and experiencing our culture."

On popular demand were the moko stamps and many a non-Māori wearing theirs proudly.

"Our generosity, the way in which our manaakitanga, how we welcome everyone is much stronger this year and I  think as we settle in and figure out how to do things in that partnership you can feel the palpable difference this year."

Underlying the whole festival, was a theme of Māori music and musicians in an effort to recognise the newcomers, the established and those who have left a legacy

Festival music director and entertainer Leon Wharekura says he wanted to explore the concept of 'passing the poi' by nurturing aspiring musicians to help them chase and achieve their dreams as artists.

"I remember those elite ones who paved the way in the entertainment industry, the likes of Dalvanius (Prime), Sir Howard Morrison, Tui Teka," says Wharekura.

The festival has a co-governance model, with representatives of Auckland's 19 Mana Whenua tribal authorities overseeing the authenticity of the festival content and ATEED bringing its events production and economic development expertise to the project

Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival Mana Whenua Steering Group Chairman Hau Rāwiri says, "Despite the politics between the different iwi, we must come together for the sake all Māoridom, following this comes business and our relationships with each other."

Mana Whenua envisions their festival of sharing their Māoritanga will make its way around the rest country for all to enjoy.