Topic: Ngāpuhi

Ngāpuhi Festival takes Whangārei by storm

By Raniera Harrison
  • Northland

The nation's largest tribal grouping today turned out in full-force to the biennial Ngāpuhi Festival, held at Toll Stadium in Whangārei.

With an estimated 15,000 descendants of the northern tribe descending on the country's northernmost city today - temperatures sweltered to an approximate 29 degrees Celsius.

Current Labour list MP and former Far North District Councillor, Willow-Jean Prime (Te Kapotai, Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi) says, "This is the embodiment of the beauty of unity. Honouring being Māori, our subtribal links and tribal links also."

With a plethora of live music and entertainment to keep the masses satisfied - the many descendants of Rāhiri were treated to performances from regional senior kapa haka defending champions Hātea, Te Puu Ao, and Kaitāia-based group, Muriwhenua. Alongside them, RnB singer Pieter T took the stage alongside Majic Pāora and hometown favourite Te Huaki Puanaki.

There has been discussion as to whether or not the Festival would remain in Whangārei.

"The problem in previous years is that there have been many festivals held on this exact weekend in Auckland. It is now known as the porch of Ngāpuhi," says former chairman of Te Rūnanga Ā Iwi o Ngāpuhi, Rāniera Tau.

The festival has long been hosted in Ngāpuhi heartlands, in Kaikohe. However, in 2010 the festival was hosted in Auckland. 

Members of the tribe are free to the discussions that the event could be moved.

"There is nothing wrong with testing the viability of holding this event somewhere else in the next two years. It may be that it is held elsewhere. The main thing is that people attend," says Julian Wilcox, who was today assigned to keeping the masses at bay on the main stage of the event as one of four Masters of Ceremony.

For the time being, there is no final comment from the tribal executive on where it will be held in 2020.

"We need to reevaluate from this year what good things will emerge going forward" adds Tau.

Discussions are still preliminary as to where, and if the festival will move in 2020, regardless, the tribe say they will still unite.

"From the Far North to Hokianga across to Whangaroa, back here to Whangarei. It is important that these ancestral teachings are retained," says Chris Henare, head tutor of Muriwhenua kapa haka.

RnB songstress, Aaradhna will take the stage at 7:30pm to finish the night off.