Celebrating Waitangi Day in the south

Around 460 people braved unpredictable weather conditions to attend the Ngāi Tahu Treaty Festival, celebrating the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, at Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff on 6 February.

Visitors were welcomed onto the marae with a pōwhiri, with pupils from Te Wharekura O Arowhenua, Invercargill performing waiata and haka.

One of the highlights for manuhiri was the opportunity to view kākāpō, takahē, kiwi and tuatara. The Department of Conservation set up controlled viewing for visitors, giving them the chance to see these rare, iconic birds for perhaps the first time in their lives. The kākāpō, Lisa 1 – a young male bird temporarily named after his mother – was renamed during his visit and he now bears the more appropriate name, Ruapuke. Ruapuke Island was one of the three Te Waipounamu locations where Ngāi Tahu signed the Treaty in 1840. Ruapuke (the kākāpō) returned to his home on Whenua Hou (Codfish Island), after a full night on display.

Awarua Rūnanga Upoko, Tā Tipene O’Regan was the keynote speaker at the Treaty Relationship Forum, which discussed issues revolving around the treaty and the Ngāi Tahu iwi.

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