Festival of Elements uplifts Waitangi celebrations in Wellington

By Ani-Oriwia Adds

Celebrating its 25th year, Porirua kicked off its Waitangi Day celebrations with the Festival of the Elements. The festival attracts thousands of people each year with its focus on New Zealand's multi-cultural society.

Music, comedy and arts, culture and food is what Porirua's Waitangi Day celebration is all about.

Local Jamie McCaskill says, “Waitangi Day for me is about educating about our history, educating about Te Ao Maori in a nice and inclusive way and moving forward not as one people but as people who understand each other.”

The Festival of the Elements is one of Wellington's biggest festivals. Founding member Bob Carter says that the idea came about in 1991 when they felt like the community needed to come together and bring some happiness.

Mayor of Porirua Mike Tana told Te Kāea, “It’s celebrating who we are, our sovereignty, the way that we show it the way that we share it with the crown and the way that we share it with the people coming into Porirua.”

Today the festival brings together cultures from all over the world and educates people about the Treaty of Waitangi through culture, dance, and arts.

Chair of Porirua Community Arts Council Judy McCoy says, “We involve around 1000 volunteers from around the community, community groups, and organizations from babies to 102-year-olds.”

Festival organisers say that Waitangi is a day of remembrance, but also a day to acknowledge and move forward together.