Ban buries hangi plans


Visitors to Queenstown’s Waitangi Day celebrations will miss out on traditional Maori food because of an Otago-wide fire ban.

Organiser Leah Webster, from Wakatipu Whanau, says a planned hangi was scrapped because of the restrictions — ironic after heavy recent rain.

‘‘It is a legislation thing so we aren’t able to do it. It’s a shame because we always sell out and it is such a nice touch, actually. We will improvise and do some other things.’’

She says it hasn’t ruined their enthusiasm for the event.

‘‘It’s a big celebration in the Gardens. It’s just really to showcase Maori music and performance and the different cultural things like flax weaving.’’

There will also be Maori massage, face painting with Maori design for the kids and the local kapa haka group will be there.

‘‘It’s a totally free day. Everyone [involved], they donate their time for free and we wouldn’t be able to do it without volunteers. It’s really neat and important not to have anything too commercial on Waitangi Day.’’

There is also something for music fans, with Invercargill-based Rhythmonyx performing about 3pm.

‘‘That’s a real one to come and see,’’ Webster says. ‘‘They are going to play some songs for us in the rotunda.’’

Waitangi celebrations kick off in Queenstown Gardens at noon and finish about 6pm.

‘‘It’s just a big celebration for our national day. There will be lots of locals, lots of families — so come along, relax and enjoy the day.’’