The sleepy Eastern Bay settlement of Ruatoki played host to thousands during Easter weekend as the 42nd Hui Ahurei a Tuhoe took place.
Three days of kapa haka, sport and debate, all designed to bring iwi together and strengthen the identity of Tuhoe, culminated in a prize-giving on Sunday night where Te Karu were named overall haka winners with Ngati Haka Patuheuheu in second and Tawera Kaipuha third.
The first Hui Ahurei was held at Mataatua Marae in Rotorua in 1971 and since then, the event has grown to be the biggest and longest-standing iwi festival in New Zealand.
It is held every two years but the last festival was held three years ago. The 2016 event was the first post-settlement for Tuhoe.
On Friday a pohiri was held at Te Rewerewa Marae to open the event. Thirteen children's haka groups performed on Friday, while the different ropu debated a number of issues including "It is right that Te Urewera have its own sovereignty", and "Tuhoe agrees that cannabis should be legalised". Rugby games were also played.
On Saturday the highly competitive senior kapa haka got under way at 8am and continued through until well after 6pm with 15 groups taking to the stage.
Tuhoe passion and pride was evident in each of the haka performances with the crowd of thousands reacting each time a point was made through word or waiata. Sunday hosted netball and prizegiving. Prizegiving was followed by performances from the Battle of the Band's winners, the Modern Maori Quartet and Ardijah.
Rotorua Daily Post