Topics: Arts, Kapa Haka

Tūhoe Festival starts tomorrow

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

The longest running tribal festival in New Zealand returns to Rotorua tomorrow. Te Hui Ahurei a Tūhoe is in its 47th year and Rotorua was the place of its inception.

The festival is an opportunity for Tūhoe descendants to come together to strengthen their identity.

The stage is set and according to Kimiora Webster by 9am tomorrow morning the event will be in full swing.

“Our elders of this marae, when we were kids, have always wanted the festival to return here that has always been the dream of this sub-tribe Mātaatua ki Rotorua.  Now it's happening,” says Webster.

An estimated $300,000 has been spent on the festival.  Organisers say this has been met through ticket sales, team fees and sponsorship.  But it's the manpower behind the event that has bought it to fruition.

Te Aria Whauwhau who has volunteered his time says, “I heard the negative comments associated with our festival- the implications that this will be a hard festival to run for the tribe- that is why I have come to help.”

The three-day festival includes kapa haka, sports and debates.  The last time it was held in Rotorua was in 1971.

The event was established to strengthen the identity of urban Tūhoe and descendants.

Te Arawa will host the pōwhiri to Tūhoe at 7am tomorrow at the Rotorua International Stadium.