Ngāti Kuri rewards Te Tai Tokerau with music festival

By Marena Mane

Last weekend the Ngāti Kuri Trust Board decided to thank its community and iwi by giving them a full-scale music festival featuring artists like Che Fu, Savage and Ladi6 - at $10 a ticket.
 
Called Hikoi to 100, it was an acknowledgement of the people's hard work in vaccinating themselves against Covid-19, despite their initial fear and worries.
  
"It's a celebration of all the hard effort of the past two and a half years of community whānau, everybody banding together to provide responses to Covid-19 so honouring them and the huge effort that we've had in the vaccination drive," Ngāti Kuri Trust Board executive director Sheridan Waitai says.

"That means we can open up and do events like this but, more to the point, get back together," she says.
 
The Hikoi to 100 campaign began last December in response to poor vaccination rates in Te Tai Tokerau and the need to strengthen iwi resilience.
 
"For us as an iwi, they're up there just over 90%. Prior to that, we were pretty low. We were scraping I think around 63-61% when we started.

Looking after each other

"It's just the way that they've looked after manuhiri and tourists throughout this time, and through the big hard times of lockdown, how we've looked after each other and how we've served our community. I'm extremely proud."
 
With a sell-out crowd of 3,500 people, the festival was run in partnership with promoter Andy Murnane of Dawn Raid Entertainment.

"This is the first music festival for any of us in the music community after Omicron so yeah, it's a really good time. Some of my great friends are here, Ladi6, Tomorrow People, 1814 who are actually local from here. We even brought superstar Savage here. Kaumātua Che Fu. It's the first time a lot of us have been back on the road."

Aside from the well-known music artists such as Savage, Ladi6, Tomorrow People, 1814 and Che Fu, the festival was also the debut gig for homegrown band Papa's Pack, whose members all whakapapa to Ngāti Kuri.

'Awesome opportunity'

Papa Pack musician Tamatoa Adams says this was the group's first festival gig "and I think this is our first festival attended too since the lockdown, especially for the Far North.

"It's been a long time since we had something like this up here and to be part of it for our whānau and community, it's an awesome opportunity."
 
Another musician from Papa's Pack, Turoa Atama, says, "The invitation to do this gig was basically for us our first proper gig being able to get on a big stage to support this kaupapa."
   
Organisers of Hikoi to 100 hope that this won't be their last festival and they've got something to say to our viewers around the motu: "Reminding everybody that we still need to keep safe during Covid-19, taking all those lessons about a safe distance if you're sick, stay home, and just being really vigilant because we've still got another two and a half years in the space of unknown," Waitai says.

"So, we want to keep up those practices and keep safe."

Murnane says, "I want my own marae on 90 Mile Beach. Just for us, for the musos to come back."