12 Mar 2015

Regatta celebrates 120th anniversary

8:10 pm on 12 March 2015

This year marks the 120th anniversary of the Turangawaewae Regatta, the sight of Maori warriors paddling beautifully carved waka along the Waikato River.

Waitangi Day waka

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The event originally known as the Ngaruawahia regatta started in 1894, but was cancelled in 1972 due to high water levels.

The association in charge of it suffered financially, and didn't want to continue - so Turangawaewae Marae took over the event from 1973 onwards.

This year, the annual event takes place on March the 21st.

Organiser Sonya Haggie said the event was an opportunity for Waikato-Tainui to continue the tradition, and showcase its culture to the thousands of people who attend.

She said it welcomed a lot of tourists every year who come from all across the world.

Ms Haggie said it was a very special occasion not just for tourists but for all New Zealanders to see Waikato culture, and also have the opportunity to see the culture of Turangawaewae Marae.

She said it was also a special year in which the people of Waikato-Tainui celebrate the 170th anniversary of its oldest canoe, which is housed at the Waikato Museum of Art and History.

She said last year the regatta was attended by about eight-thousand people.

Ms Haggie said the event helped to raise funds for Turangawaewae Marae.

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