The patchy weather in Masterton on Saturday didn’t deter a large number of people from flocking to the town’s first Whānau Day – a collaboration between Masterton District Council [MDC], Rangitāne o Wairarapa, and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa that was part of the region’s Waitangi celebrations.
As such, it achieved the stated purpose of the event, which – as noted by Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa’s Jemma Voice – was “about the community coming together, and removing financial barriers for whānau to come and just hang out for the day and be in each other’s presence while utilising the facilities we have in Masterton”.
As well as a number of stalls and food trucks set up in Queen Elizabeth Park, the day featured free access to the park’s miniature train and paddleboats, and to the Trust House Recreation Centre, which also put on a free sausage sizzle to the accompaniment of a local DJ laying down some catchy tracks.
Many families made the most of the day, enjoying the laidback, friendly atmosphere.
“The miniature train carried about 1200 people in about 40 trips around the island in the Lake of Remembrance, while the paddleboats were in full swing – nearly 400 people took to the water in 130 voyages,” an MDC spokesperson told the Times-Age.
And regardless of the weather, “plenty were keen for a dip at the Recreation Centre, with more than 670 visitors to the pools”.
Mayor Gary Caffell was chuffed with how the day played out.
“For a first up, and with the weather a mixed bag, it was a huge success,” Caffell said.
“A lot of work went into it, and the feeling I picked up was that it could even have gone on a bit longer.
“There was a really good cross-section of the community involved and a lot of visitors who I spoke to were also enjoying the day.”
Corin Haines, MDC’s community general manager, was also pleased with the response.
“It was great so many of our community and their whānau enjoyed each other’s company, and the fantastic facilities and open spaces we have to offer,” Haines said.
“Working with Rangitāne o Wairarapa and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa has led to a day where whānau has been the focus, within the context of marking the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
“I am delighted with the community response and can see this becoming a popular annual event.”