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Wairarapa Waitangi celebrations ‘about coming together’

The Masterton District Council [MDC] community development team, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, has partnered with Rangitāne o Wairarapa this year for Wairarapa Waitangi celebrations – with a significant focus on bringing the community together.

MDC community activator Deborah Davidson said the upcoming events are designed to be a “collaborative approach” that will involve three new ways for the Wairarapa community to explore, learn, and commemorate Waitangi Day and the region’s history.

Being introduced this year are an event tomorrow for local community partners who work closely with Wairarapa iwi, a Whānau Day on Saturday in Masterton, and a series of interviews highlighting a diverse range of opinions from eight local Wairarapa Māori.

Ten community agencies will participate in an Amazing Race-style journey to 12 sites significant to Wairarapa’s history as part of the Wairarapa Treaty Trails event tomorrow.

The Whānau Day on Saturday is an expansion on the annual Whānau Day previously hosted by Ngāti Kahungunu and will be spread across Queen Elizabeth Park, Masterton Skatepark, and Trust House Recreation Centre with kai, craft, information stalls, and basketball and skateboard competitions from 11am to 2pm, as well as free access to the pools all day.

A series of videos of interviews with Wairarapa Māori explores the significance of Waitangi Day and Te Tiriti with a local focus and shares knowledge and histories from different Māori perspectives – the video will be released on the MDC YouTube channel.

Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa’s Jemma Voice said that the biggest aspect of all three offerings will be to bring the community together – particularly the Whānau Day.

“It’s about the community coming together, 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,” she said.

A free sausage sizzle will be put on at Trust House Recreation Centre, and whānau are also welcome to bring their own picnics, while the boats and train at the park will also be running for free [between 10am and 2pm for the boat rides, and all day for the miniature train].

Rangitāne o Wairarapa’s Renee Rimene emphasised the day is for everybody, and they all hope the wider Wairarapa community will join in celebrating the upcoming Waitangi Day and coming together.

“Waitangi is about partnership, so that’s really our focus,” she said.

Rangitāne o Wairarapa chief executive of Mihirangi Hollings said the three kaupapa are about “supporting Tangata Tiriti to celebrate the days, and we support MDC in the approach taken this year to educate and decolonise the hapori [community] on the whakapapa of Te Tiriti of Waitangi in Wairarapa”.

Voice said having Whānau Day on Saturday will allow community members to travel to Waitangi on Waitangi Day, or to head to the local marae.

Hurunui-o-rangi Marae in Gladstone will be having a Waitangi Day celebration event from 10 to 5pm, and Hau Ariki Marae in Martinborough will be having a hui to reflect on how to support Te Tiriti within Wairarapa and celebrate local Trevor Hawkins receiving a Queens Award in recognition of his services to the community [the hui at Hau Ariki runs from 2.30pm to 4.30pm and rsvp should be sent to [email protected]].

The Waitangi events have been funded by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage along with 34 other community events across the country.

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