Waitangi Day at Otakou

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The maritime history of Otakou as a place where Dunedin’s people landed by waka or sailing ship will be highlighted during Ngai Tahu Treaty of Waitangi commemorations.
Hosted every third year by Te Runanga o Otakou, at Otakou Marae, the event is the major southern commemoration of Waitangi Day, on February 6, and attracts up to 800 people.
On alternate years, the commemorations are held in Christchurch and Invercargill.
Te Runanga o Otakou events co-ordinator Tracey Potiki said the theme of this year’s commemorations was “Te Hereka Waka” – a mooring place for the many waka and ships which have voyaged to New Zealand shores.
The theme will be explored in a guest speaker forum, including waka specialist Hoturoa Kerr and Auckland-based archaeologist and conservator Dilys Johns, who led the project to excavate and conserve a canoe found in Papanui Inlet in 2014. Ngai Tahu kaumatua Sir Tipene O’Regan and Minister for
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson will also speak.
The guest speakers forum would form the centrepiece for a mix of formal and relaxed events during the family-friendly commemorations, Mrs Potiki said.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull and South Island resident naval officer Lieutenant-commander Ian Marshall, representing the Governor-General, will also be present.
“There will be formal events, such as the powhiri [welcome] and poroporoaki [farewell], surrounded by a family festival,” Mrs Potiki said.
Throughout the day there will be stalls and entertainment, food vendors, exhibitions, workshops and a chance to try waka ama (outrigger canoe) paddling. Families are also welcome to bring picnics.
“It is a lovely opportunity for us to open up the marae to the people of Dunedin as we celebrate our nationhood. We feel honoured to be hosting the event on behalf of Ngai Tahu.”
She also acknowledged Dunedin City Council for its support.