Ngāti Hine refuse to let flooding dampen their festival

By Lynette Amoroa

State highways around the Northland region remain closed following floods. Many festivals across the North Island were cancelled due to heavy rain, but the Ngāti Hine tribe refused to let the weather put a dampener on their biennial festival.

Gumboots and umbrellas were the perfect attire for Ngāti Hine festival.

Des Tipene - Ngāti Mahanga says, “Matawaia is completely flooded which made it impossible for me to get out.Factor in the strong winds too, it's just wet everywhere.”

But it wasn't funny for all. Local farmers worked overtime getting their cattle to higher ground. Northland travellers were forced to take alternate routes and fun family events became a chore.

Wiremu Keretene - Ngāti Hine says, “It's unfortunate having to bring the children out in these conditions. But we've made a concerted effort to support the event.”

Severe thunderstorms overnight produced downpours of 30-50mm per hour, forcing event cancellations across the region. Te Ahuareka o Ngāti Hine Festival wasn't going to cancel a second day of their biennial event which attracts thousands of people to Otiria Marae near Moerewa.

Pita Tipene - Kaiwhakahāere Ahuareka says, “The weather seems to have improved with slight showers, but despite the rain and floods, we've still had a great turn out.”

The NZ Transport Agency says large road slips has caused delays, cutting off access to some towns. But, Pita Tipene says locals see great benefits in the flood.

Pita Tipene says, “When the rain comes, so too does the eel migration, it's an opportune time to gather the local delicacy.”

More rain is expected tomorrow, but Ngāti Hine continues to make the most of their event through haka performances and whakapapa sessions.