Wai­tangi Day Fes­ti­val of the El­e­ments canned

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

‘‘It's a huge beast [the fes­ti­val] and a huge amount of work for a rapidly de­creas­ing core group of vol­un­teers’’

Af­ter weath­er­ing 25 years of cel­e­bra­tions, Porirua’s Fes­ti­val of the El­e­ments has been can­celled.

Touted as New Zealand’s big­gest Wai­tangi Day cel­e­bra­tion out­side Wai­tangi it­self, the event that at­tracted up to 30,000 peo­ple had be­come a vic­tim of its own suc­cess, its co-founder said.

Porirua Arts Coun­cil found­ing mem­ber Bob Cater said the year­round work of ap­ply­ing for fund­ing had be­come un­man­age­able for the group’s vol­un­tary mem­bers.

‘‘It’s a huge beast [the fes­ti­val] and a huge amount of work for a rapidly de­creas­ing core group of vol­un­teers.’’

Cater, who re­ceived a Queens Ser­vice Medal for his work on the fes­ti­val, said it con­tin­ued to grow from its hum­ble be­gin­nings.

‘‘You of­ten felt you were just be­ing dragged along by it as it gath­ered its own mo­men­tum.’’

He wasn’t sure if the Arts Coun­cil would al­low the trade­marked name to be used by any­one else run­ning a Wai­tangi Day event.

‘‘We’ll have to look at that as it arises.’’

A Porirua City Coun­cil spokes­woman said the coun­cil would still run a Wai­tangi Day event but plan­ning ‘‘has yet to oc­cur’’.

‘‘Fund­ing for it will be al­lo­cated by the coun­cil once de­tails of the event are de­ter­mined.’’

Arts coun­cil chair Judy McKoy said the coun­cil gave $55,000 to this year’s fes­ti­val which cost $175,000 to run.

The coun­cil would have dif­fi­culty ap­ply­ing for grants and fund­ing be­cause it was a business, not a char­ity, she said.

Any event put on by coun­cil would be vastly dif­fer­ent to ‘‘the com­mu­nity-based fes­ti­val’’.

Porirua mayor Mike Tana en­sured the city would still have an event on the same scale as what they were used to.

‘‘It will be the same type of event but the only thing that will change is the name.’’

Ngati Toa spokesman Taku Parai was shocked to hear the fes­ti­val was can­celled and said iwi would sup­port any at­tempt to keep it go­ing.

‘‘Any event that brings 30,000 peo­ple into a city has got to be good. Why would you knock some­thing like that on the head?’’

KEVIN STENT/FAIR­FAX NZ

Iem­ina Ter­awasi, 7, of the St Josephs Kiri­bati Catholic Com­mu­nity Group at the 2017 fes­ti­val of the El­e­ments.

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