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Game On for A Singing, Sporting Waitangi Weekend


Fri 4 Feb 2011, 10:00am–1:00pm
Sat 5 Feb 2011, 10:00am–7:30pm
Sun 6 Feb 2011, 5:00am–4:45pm

Where: Waitangi Treaty Grounds, 1 Tau Henare Drive, Paihia, Bay of Islands

Restrictions: All Ages

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Related Artists:

Listed by: Andy Larsen

Headlining the Waitangi Day entertainment will be Dame Malvina Major, on stage at the bay where Hobson stepped ashore to sign the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Co-hosted by veteran entertainer Ray Woolf, the show on the eve of Waitangi Day will also allow some young, local singing students to show their talents. Entry is by donation.

Dame Malvina will sing songs from the shows and other well-loved favourites, opening the concert with some of opera’s favourite and familiar arias. She will be accompanied by pianist Sue Smith-Gaddis, the recipient of an honour in the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to music.

The concept of presenting on the Waitangi stage two of the country’s music icons, each from different genres, came from Waitangi National Trust CEO, Jeanette Richardson. “Ray has become a ‘standing room only’ performer on the Hobson’s beach stage over the last few Waitangi festivals, and like so many New Zealanders he has great admiration for Dame Malvina. They both performed on stage for the tribute to the late Sir Howard Morrison and they also appeared together on the New Year’s Honours List in 2008. It seemed natural to ask them to come together again at the place where the two Treaty partners came together.”

Also on Saturday 5th January, the national competitions for a game older than rugby take place at Waitangi. The ball game Ki-O-Rahi is now played by millions of school children through the USA, and many thousands throughout France and Italy, where it was introduced by the Maori Battalion during World War 2. Today it thrives throughout its homeland with some 50,000 players. Last year the inaugural Waitangi Bowl trophy marked the start of a move to national championships.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds deputy CEO Andy Larsen hopes that including a national championship during the Waitangi Day “season” of celebrations will shine a brighter spotlight on the game. “It pre-dates rugby, the game upon which the name of the Treaty Grounds’ founder Lord Bledisloe is indelibly engraved. Sport and leisure were key elements in the deed of trust through which Bledisloe gifted Waitangi to the nation, so it is fitting to host the Waitangi Bowl here as a national, annual trophy. Ki-o-rahi has also turned lives around and provided a focus and an alternative for motivating youth in rural areas.”

Harko Brown, the Northland Chairperson of Ki-o-Rahi Akotanga Iho (Ki-o-Rahi NZ) and NZ coach, selected Buck Shelford for the national men’s team which played the first ki-o-rahi international against France in Dieppe on September 26th this year. He says the crowds were large, and enthusiastic. “The international match was about NZ’s best players meeting with the players and administrators of Ki-o-Rahi Dieppe Organisation (Ki-o-Rahi France) who have sustained guardianship of ki-o-rahi since WW2. It was about spiritual reconnections as much as a physical test, and with the mana of Buck Shelford earning his 23rd test cap, and Renata Tane observing the significant traditional Maori games protocols, there was plenty of attention from European media.”

The games in the two days prior to Waitangi Day will be friendly, and players will be trying to involve the crowds, says Harko Brown. “We are expecting some celebrities there, and we have plenty of spare jerseys. We’ll be encouraging members of the public to join a team for five or ten minutes to get a feel for the game – the emphasis is on getting together.” Harko Brown says the sport has become a force for cultural inclusiveness and motivation throughout schools in the region.

Friday 4 February will be the Waitangi Ki-o-Rahi exhibition day - a friendly “whanau day” where school children and the public can learn about, and perhaps take part in, the sport that has stormed much of the world, yet still attracts little media attention in its homeland.