Kai time – 158 years on

Matariki made history last week as the world’s first indigenous celebration to be recognised as a public holiday – and for local iwi Ngāti Apakura it was historic for other reasons.

They celebrated Matariki with a hāngī and live music. The hāngī was dug and prepared at 61 Rangiaowhia Road, which was returned to Ngāti Apakura with help from the Anglican Church earlier this year.

Pixie Stockman and John Cheal of Ngāti Apakura helped serve boxes of hāngī.

“We did it at Rangiaowhia, that was pretty special for us. It was the first hāngī that was prepared on our land in 158 years,” said Ngāti Apakura Runanga Trust chairperson, Bill Harris.

The hāngī was co-ordinated by Runanga trustees George Griggs and Julia Martin. Harris said it took them most of the Friday to prepare – digging the pit, readying the fire and assembling the kai.

“They lit the fire around 4am on Saturday, so that the kai could be ready by lunch time” Harris said.

He said nearly 500 people attended their celebration, which was held on 190 Factory Road.

“Most of the people who attended on Saturday were Māori. Getting 4-500 Māori together in Te Awamutu is pretty special,” he said.

“It was just great, and I think Māori really appreciated it too.”

Apakura sold roughly 400 hāngī. They could be bought for $15 and each included wild pork, mutton, chicken, stuffing, and ground vegetables. Dessert, also included, was steam pudding and custard.

“It wasn’t so much about being a fundraiser for us, it was more about the opportunity to have Apakura recognised in Te Awamutu,” said Harris.

“We will be even better planned next year. We have got an annual holiday now; we have got to have an annual event.”

Related: Te Awamutu News | Land return a blessing

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