15 Sep 2011

Takitimu festival marks ancestors' arrival

7:36 pm on 15 September 2011

Tangata whenua from Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa have welcomed hundreds of visitors to Hastings for the opening of the Takitimu festival.

The festival, which began on Thursday, is being held by descendants of the ancestral Takitimu waka to celebrate its arrival in Aotearoa more than 500 years ago.

It is only the second time the festival been held and kapa haka groups and schools have been preparing for months for the big event.

The powhiri at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports park included speeches from the leaders of Tainui, Ngati Kahu, Ngai Tahu, Ngati Porou, the Cook Islands, and Hawaii.

The only one presented in English came from Cathy Towtongie, who spoke on behalf of the Inuit people of Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Russia.

As her waiata Ms Towtongie sang an Inuit chant said by her people to go back 10,000 years.