Unfortunately the week leading-up to Waitangi Day took a turn for the worse and we were unable to launch our waka prior to our Waitangi Day celebrations starting. The wind was so strong it snapped a tree at the base on the marae grounds. However, the weather gods played nice and our band of volunteers from the Bluff 2024 Urban Rejuvenation group, with the help of six Bluff Sea Scouts volunteers, were able to put up our marquee and tents the night before the big day. A big shout out to Sonny Tonihi and Lawrence Waihirere who came along with some much needed expertise and help in erecting the marquee, which was kindly lent to the rūnanga by Meridian Energy.

Before the big day there were a hive of activity with Department of Conservation (DoC) staff coming down to erect the enclosure for the kākāpō that was going on display the night before Waitangi Day, and enclosures were set up for the kiwi and takahē around the marae grounds. A huge thank you to DoC staff for their support and the hard work they put in to ensure these birds were seen by the public in environments that resembled their natural habitat.

The kiwi and takahē were also popular on the day and were well photographed. In fact the takahē looked like they were in their natural environment.

Staff from the Southland Museum and Art Gallery were on hand with their precious taonga for the big day. Items included a restored tauihu; a mauri stone (pounamu); a large framed copy of the Southern Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and of course on the day Lindsay from the museum walked among the crowd with Gunther, a 24-year-old tuatara while two baby tuatara in a glass cabinet were admired by the tamariki. The tuatara were a great success with young and old alike – a big thank you to the staff involved.

On the arrival of the kākāpō to the marae, Tā Tipene O’Regan had the privilege of naming the un-named kākāpō, Ruapuke. This has some significance for whānau as the Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed at Ruapuke in 1840. A steady stream of manuhiri called in to see Ruapuke while it was here.

The 175th Anniversary of Waitangi Day started off cold, wet and windy. Our marquee came in handy for the 400 plus manuhiri who braved the wintery conditions and waited for the pōwhiri to begin. Near the start of the pōwhiri the weather cleared up and manuhiri were welcomed on by our kaikaranga, Stephanie Blair and the tauira from Te Wharekura o Arowhenua who gave tautoko with haka.

As soon as our manuhiri were seated in our whare tūpuna the rain started again. The kōrero and waiata could be heard around the marae complex so no one missed out.

Thank you to Allen Harnett our local kaumātua and carver come sculptor who was on hand with a lovely display of work.

The kitchen was supported by whānau and volunteers from the Bluff 2024 Urban Rejuvenation group. On behalf of Sharon and Jacqui thank you to you all, this includes the harvesters who gathered our kaimoana for the event. Unfortunately, tio didn’t make it onto the table due to weather conditions but this was made up with kōura, whitebait, battered blue cod bites and pāua. Te Rau Aroha Marae would like to acknowledge Ngāi Tahu Property for providing the meat for the hākari and the barbeque for the waka launch on the Sunday.

The tauira from Te Wharekura o Arowhenua entertained the manuhiri with haka and waiata when they came into the wharekai for the hākari – ka mau te wehi. They were one of the many highlights of the day that the visiting dignitaries and members of the public enjoyed.

Last, but not least a big thanks for the aroha and tautoko from the Murihiku Māori Wardens, the kaikaranga and the kaikōrero who were on the paepae. Everyones tautoko helped make the day an enjoyable and memorable experience, which lasted a few more days what with all the media exposure it attracted.

Kaikaranga Steph Blair and Tauira from Te Wharekura o Arowhenua. copy

The kākāpō enclosure.

Kaikaranga Steph Blair and Tauira from Te Wharekura o Arowhenua.

Kaikaranga Steph Blair and Tauira from Te Wharekura o Arowhenua.


Guests inside the whare tūpuna.

ta tipene

Tā Tipene O’Regan with Gunther the tuatara.