Whangaruru celebrates annual cultural festival

By James Caldwell, Mare Haimona-Riki
Photo / Ngāti Wai Trust Board

Going strong for more than 20 years, the Whangaruru School Cultural Festival attracted one of the largest crowds they have seen at their annual festival with over 16 primary schools performing on stage. 

Cheryl Meek (Ngāpuhi) says that one of the main purposes of the festival is to celebrate the relationship between the different iwi across the rohe.

"Whanaungatanga is the most important part of the day, especially the connections between Ngātiwai and Te Kapotai.

"For the children, we really hope that they remember the importance of holding onto the gifts that our ancestors have handed down to us," she says.

Held at Whangaruru School in Northland, the festival included countless performances combined with food stalls, all while soaking in the Taitokerau sun.

Whangaruru school principal, Jamie McQueen (Ngātiwai), hopes that festivals like this remind people of the important message of the familiar whakautaki:

"What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, he tangata, he tangata.

"The biggest thing is to perpetuate our culture within our families here from this region, through our language, music and remembering our ancestors," he says.