It’s Waitangi Day, Wakatipu style…

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Queenstown’s annual Waitangi Day celebrations take a step up this year.

Sunshine Sound System – fresh from Wanaka’s Rippon Festival – will bring their beats to Queenstown Gardens, a new community kapa haka group will perform and Maori Culture Cruise guides will tell tales of the Wakatipu to locals.

Organiser Leah Webster says: “It was a fantastic day last year – the weather’s always good to us on Waitangi Day.

“We’ve got some great stuff going on. Sunshine Sound System will be there, with the frontman Kyle Popham hosting all day which is awesome.

“It’s the first time we’ve had a community kapa haka group, local adults who are aiming for the regional finals in April.”

Sunshine Sound System is led by DJ Downtown Brown, aka Shotover Sunshine Festival organiser and former Subculture nightclub owner Simon Hendl.

Other performers include Queenstown jazz act Pass the Sauce, solo acoustic guitarist Tetuhi Purakau and three-piece Soul Manor.

Maori Culture Cruise guides Joe Cowie and Liz Davies also join the celebrations.

“They tell a history of the area to the tourists, so I’ve asked them to come up and tell it to the locals,” Webster, of Te Huatanga O Wakatipu Whanau, says.

Plates of hangi food will be $15, and the hangi often sells out, while there’ll also be flax weaving demos and Maori massage.

“Our aim for the day is to help everyone pronounce Kawarau correctly,” Webster says, “just a bit of fun.

“We always get lots of families and locals coming for the afternoon, which is our aim.”