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Children involved in the pageant approach the final gathering for the formal opening

First Motueka Kai Fest a roaring success

April 10th, 2017
[by David Armstrong]

A roaring success and definitely do it again next year - that's the reaction from most people at the inaugural Motueka Kai Fest held yesterday at Decks Reserve.

An estimated 3000 people were present at the peak period from about 11am to 1pm and probably another 1000 coming and going throughout the five-hour event.

With perfect, sunny weather and a little over 150 stalls on both the asphalt car park and most of the grassed reserve, conditions were ideal to browse, buy a selection of foods, and sit and listen to the entertainment on offer.

For most the highlight of the event was the pageant and parade, with over 200 students and Pacifica workers and wives circling the park in costumes representing the four elements that go into making Motueka's fine food - earth, water, air and fire.

The parade was accompanied by the beat of Pacifica RSE workers drumming on plastic buckets, a narration by Don Grant and colourful characters, stilt walkers and Maori figures of legend.

Local MP Damien O'Connor formally and briefly opened the event, saying it reminded him of opening the Hokitika Wild Food Festival many years ago and noting that there was no reason why the Motueka Kai Fest should not become similarly well known in years to come.

The event was planned and put together by a team of people from several community groups under the umbrella of Vision Motueka, and led by Petra Stephenson and Terri Everett.

While many stall holders, particularly those on the grassed area, reported strong sales, the most common reaction as people left was the strong feeling of community and multicultural celebration rather than any commercial success.

The event planning was funded by Rata Foundation along with contributions from Lion Foundation and Tasman District Council, but Petra says much of the thanks goes to the many volunteers, those who worked with the committee over the months as well as those who helped out on the day.

Lots of Motueka businesses also helped with donations of materials, services and time.

Here is a selection of photos taken during the day. The sheer scale of the event space and the number of people at various places around it mean photos cannot show how many people were involved.

The dignitaries in the central tent during the opening karakia (blessing)

Don Grant introduces the pageant as drummers prepare to accompany the parade

Rudolf Steiner school children used a dragon to depict the Fire element

Brooklyn schoolchildren depicted the Air element

Children from St Peter Chanel and Lower Moutere schools depicted the Water element

The four elements come together. Note the viewing "frame" used by some, top left.

Some of the crowd enjoying the pageantry

Characters portraying Maori legendary figures associated with earth, water, air and fire

Zumba dancers led the audience, with many joining in

One of the entertainers Stella Bogdanoff gave a dramatic interpretation of her poetry and music

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