28 Feb 2014

Droves turn out for Pakaitore day

8:17 pm on 28 February 2014

Hundreds of people have turned out at Whanganui's Pakaitore, or Moutoa Gardens, to mark 19 years since the 79-day occupation of ancestral land.

Te Taihauauru MP Tariana Turia says the large gathering shows the issues that resonated with local Maori in the 1995 occupation continue to reside in them today.

Students of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tupoho.

Students of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tupoho. Photo: RNZ

It was a picturesque day in the river city, with droves of tamariki and whanau packing out the modest area of land, Pakaitore, which boarders the Whanganui River.

Kura kaupapa Maori students performed kapa haka brackets amidst stalls and tents set up to celebrate the occasion, and Mrs Turia was there with her whanau.

She says the atmosphere and numbers highlight the connection the people still have with Pakaitore years on from the occupation and that it's an affirmation of who the people were - descendants of the Whanganui River.

The event to mark the occupation is growing, as more people honour that time, Mrs Turia says.

However, there is still some reluctance in New Zealand to acknowledge the wrongs done in the past to Maori - something Mrs Turia describes as a shame.