Over 3500 people attended the sold out #HīkoiTo100 Music Festival in Awanui yesterday, the first large-scale music festival to be held in Aotearoa since the Omicron outbreak.
The festival celebrated the success of the Ngāti Kuri COVID-19 vaccination drive that was held over the summer to boost iwi resilience. It also marked the transition to more freedom for the iwi and community.
Sheridan Waitai, Ngāti Kuri Trust Board Executive Director, said, “The festival was a celebration and recognition of all the mahi and aroha given by our people in our communities over the past few years of COVID in our lives. It has been a huge and at times heavy journey.
“Being able to come together with our whānau after two and a half years of being apart was unreal. The whole day was just an incredible vibe. The artists’ performances were amazing and we all shared many beautiful moments.
“All the hard work done by so many over and above what has been required of them has meant our community was kept safe. All that mahi has built up to this moment of us being able to come together as one.”
Headline acts included top NZ artists such as Tomorrow People, 1814, Ladi 6, Che-Fu and Savage. Local bands also performed, including Papa’s Pack, who kicked off the festival. On the day, scattered showers didn’t keep festival goers away.
1979 Management lead Andy Murnane said the artists were ecstatic to be able to perform again live.
“Our first show in the Far North was a sellout event and that is what every promoter wants. We attribute that to the hard work of the Ngāti Kuri iwi and the resilience of the local community.
“The day was filled with aroha. Music always brings people together.”
Ms Waitai said, “This was the first live concert in a long time. It was great for all these artists to be able to come together with the local community. This festival was, at its heart, an acknowledgement and celebration of the hard mahi that has gone into strengthening community resilience.”
Local food and clothing were also onsite, allowing festival goers to give back to local businesses who felt the impact of COVID-19 restrictions over the last two years. Ngāti Kuri were encouraged to go ahead with the festival from the increase in vaccination rates, which are significantly up since the #HīkoiTo100 campaign was first announced last December. The rohe recently recorded a 90% first dose vaccination rate, with second doses sitting at 88%.
Ms Waitai said, “Everyone now has the tools to be self managing through Covid. They know how to keep each other safe. The iwi is looking forward to getting back to our kaupapa of environmental resilience, with mahi focused on its moana and whenua.”