Ngāti Ruanui celebrate bi-annual iwi festival

Fourteen Ngāti Ruanui hapū have gathered in Pātea in celebration of the 5th bi-annual Te Rā o Ruaputahanga Festival.

There are more than 7000 descendants of Ngāti Ruanui, most of whom live outside of their tribal region. Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui Chairman, Haimona Maruera says people leave for better work and educational opportunities.

“Some move to Palmerston North, to Wellington, to Palmerston North but don't come back.”

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui CEO, Debbie Ngārewa-Packer says, "A lot of our mokopuna are growing up in the cities through necessity so part of the karanga was to call them home to keep them connected."

Ngārewa-Packer says the average annual income of iwi members based in Pātea is $16,000.

“The biggest struggle is the issues, the social issues that come from disparity and I guess part of this kaupapa is making sure that we check in with each other.”

She says, “The other really hard part about here is actually making those officials behind laptops and desks understand what is here, the strengths base that goes around communities like this that have endured.”

Their next iwi get-together is Taranaki Tū Mai which will be hosted by Ngāti Maruwharanui next year.