History of Porirua City Festival of the Elements®
After discord at Waitangi in 1991, discussion among Porirua Community Arts Council members revealed consensus that the rich multi-cultural society of Porirua City owes its existence to the invitation of the Treaty for others to share this land with the tangata whenua. This, we agreed, should be celebrated.
It was also agreed that the elements of earth, air, fire and water are intrinsically at the heart of all cultures, and at all times remain relevant and important to everyone. They became the themes around which all groups in the city could unite.
The idea was then placed before the Kaumatua Council of the mana whenua, Ngati Toa-Rangitira. With their blessing, we organised the first festival at Aotea Lagoon on Waitangi Day in 1992 and were gratified when it attracted 5,000 people. By the third Festival, we had doubled that number and outgrown our original site.
Over the years, the Festival of the Elements® has been held at various locations. In 2002 the Committee decided to hold the event at Te Rauparaha Park in the heart of Porirua City. One of the main reasons for this decision was for people throughout the whole of Porirua to feel some “ownership” of the event, rather than have it associated with any one part of the city. The Festival is now able to enjoy the splendid facilities of the Te Rauparaha Arena and Pataka Art+Museum adjacent to the park itself.
With the help of the Porirua City Council and other sponsors, the Festival has continued to grow, now attracting more than 30,000 people, and often identified as New Zealand’s largest Waitangi Day event outside of Waitangi itself.
We like to think that the event is a model of what our national day can be.
Message from Thom Kenny- Chair, Kaunihera kaumatua o Toa Rangitira ki Takupuwahia
"The city of Porirua is wealthy in terms of its diverse cultures, which over the years have been celebrated in many ways, including the opportunity of coming together to enjoy yet another day of celebration and the opportunity of commemorating Waitangi Day not only for the people of Porirua but as a symbol of National unity and pride’
‘Over the years the relationship between the Kaunihera Kaumatua and the Porirua Community Arts Council has been established and maintained... The Porirua Community Arts Council, by their very dedication and vision, helps bring families together from different cultures and walks of life to again celebrate Waitangi day as a great way forward, and [thus] preserves the mana of our city as we head into the future.’"