Regional | Festival

Free community event in Whakatū to celebrate resilience

A pandemic, major flooding events on both sides of the Whangamoa Saddle and the rising cost of living - the communities of Te Tauihu o Te Waka-a-Māui (the top of the South Island) have endured a lot over the past three years.

And it’s time to recognise that, says an iwi-backed trust, which has partnered with other Māori organisations to host an afternoon of free entertainment for the whole community.

Tū Ngātahi (Gesture of unity), to be held at Rutherford Park in Whakatū next month, is a collaboration between Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Trust, local Māori business network Toiere and the Whānau Ora commissioning agency for the South Island Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, with the support of Te Whatu Ora and Nelson City Council.

The afternoon of free entertainment, with kai and market stalls, is about acknowledging all that Te Tauihu has been through, says Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Trust pouwhakahaere rauemi Dr Lorraine Eade.

“It’s about taking some time out to relax, connect and simply have some fun.

“In the space of three years, we’ve been living with Covid-19, its lockdowns, its hospitalisations, its mamae (hurt) and still today we are experiencing its effects. “We’ve also suffered through some really severe weather events and to be sure, times are tough out there for many whānau, with the increased costs of housing, power costs and kai.

Wellington band Big Little Rōpū will entertain

“So Tū Ngātahi is about bringing our communities together to celebrate our resilience as a rohe - a ‘gesture of unity’ and an acknowledgement that we have all come through some pretty difficult times.”

The free family event will be held at Rutherford Park on Saturday, February 25, from 2pm to 6pm – the same day as Te Matatini Herenga Waka Herenga Tangata Festival 2023, the pinnacle event in Aotearoa for Māori performing arts, which will this year be held in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland). For those who can’t make it north to see Te Matatini live, there will be a livestream set up in the foyer of the Trafalgar Centre.

“We know many whānau will be travelling to Auckland that weekend for the big event but we thought ‘Let’s also take this chance to introduce the magic of Te Matatini to the wider community,” Eade says.

On the main stage outside at Rutherford Park, there will be a selection of local acts, with the main drawcard being Wellington band, Big Little Rōpū.

People are encouraged to pack a blanket and a camp chair and make an afternoon of it. Bring a picnic, or choose from one of the local kai providers, including a 50c sausage sizzle.

Entry is free. There will also be an area for kaumātua with free cups of tea and manaaki (hospitality) on tap.

Advancing well-being

Tū Ngātahi is an alcohol and smoke-free event. People who would like to have a kai or food stall at the event, please email Mareikura Ikin at

Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Charitable Trust was set up in February 2021 by the eight iwi of Te Tauihu o Te Waka-a-Māui (top of the South Island) to advance health and wellbeing, alleviate poverty, ensure adequate food and housing is available and promote education and skills for the benefit of the communities of Te Tauihu and in particular in our Māori communities.Ngā iwi o Te Tauihu of Te Waka-a-Māui are: Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Tama ki Te Waipounamu, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Rangitāne o Wairau and Te Ātiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui.

The details

  • When: Saturday, February 25, 2023
  • Time: 2pm to 6pm
  • Where: Rutherford Park, Whakatū
  • What: Kai stalls, Māori business market, TV livestream to Te Matatini, hauora zone and live entertainment from local performers and Wellington act Big Little Rōpū.