On January 3rd, participants gathered at Ngata College in Ruatoria to take part in a range of events that tested everything from strength and speed to creativity and brain-power. The festival spread across three other venues, with around 3500 people taking part throughout the day. After the impact of COVID-19 last year, people were happy to gather together and engage in some healthy inter-marae rivalry. The event is designed to strengthen whanaungatanga and promote healthy lifestyle practices and provide a fun day out for whanau.
“After COVID-19 last year, I think we had the biggest crowd we’d had in years as people were keen to get together,” said TRONPnui marae kaitakawaenga Leeanne Morice.
The winning marae was Te Ariuru (Tokomaru Bay), second was Hinemaurea ki Wharekahika (Wharekahika/Hicks Bay) and third was Mangahanea (Ruatoria).
“We distributed $14,550 in prize money to marae, all sourced through sponsorship from local businesses and organisations. Given the year we have had, we were amazed at how quick they were to sign up to sponsor individual events,” Ms Morice said.
“We want to thank all of our sponsors, including our principal sponsors Trust Tairāwhiti, Te Puni Kokiri, and NZCT, who, alongside Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou covered the operational costs.”
Speed shearing was the only new activity introduced in 2021, Ki-o-rahi was extremely popular with rangatahi, with 16 teams taking part in this year’s competition. Other events included tug-o-war, touch rugby, basketball, netball, 100-metre sprints, relays, swimming, tennis, volleyball, darts, chess, and more.
“All events were highly contested in true ‘Nati’ fashion, and we were just so pleased to be able to hold Pa Wars this year. We took some extra precautions by providing care packages to each marae made up of hand sanitiser, plastic gloves, QR codes, and more to ensure all our marae whanau felt safe.”