The kaimoana festival coming to Kaipara

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14 June 2022

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The team behind the Kaipara Kaimoana Festival are gearing up to greet, feed and entertain up to 150 guests.

Rock oysters (tio repe), flounder (pātiki), snapper (tāmure), mullet (kanae raukura) smoked in mānuka and honey, seafood chowder, fry bread, hāngī vegetables, salads and desserts, including fresh fruit salad, pavlova and steamed pudding – if you weren’t hungry, speaking to Linda Clapham will leave you with an appetite.

Linda, chief executive at Te Hana Te Ao Marama on the Kaipara Harbour, one hour north of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, and the team are preparing for one of the biggest events to be held at the Māori cultural centre in recent months.

It’s the Kaipara Kaimoana Festival, part of Elemental AKL 2022, and will include a pōwhiri, seafood feast and kapa haka performance by members of Te Uri o Hau, the Northland hapū of Ngāti Whātua. When it was held last year, guests declared it was so good they wanted one every month!

That might be a little too often, says Linda, but greeting, feeding and entertaining up to 150 guests – hearing the laughter, seeing the smiles on the faces when the kai is served – will be most welcome after quiet months.

The visual arts and cultural centre is well used to offering manaakitanga to local and international visitors who can tour its Māori village, gaining insights into pre-European Māori life, stay on its marae, enjoy entertainment in the wharenui or feast in the whare kai.

Welcoming them back will herald something of a restart at Te Hana Te Ao Marama, developed over 20 years by Te Hana Community Development Trust to revitalise the area and provide employment for locals. Linda, an architect who worked for leading Auckland firm Swan Railley and travelled extensively throughout the South Pacific, designing hotels, lodges and residential housing, is a founding member of the trust. She was raised in the Waikato and studied at the University of Auckland, but love brought her north some 25 years ago and she’s never left. Ask why, and Linda evocatively talks about the many dimensions to the Kaipara Harbour: its tidal flows, the skyscape and the light, and the moon, which shines differently night after night.

Te Hana Te Ao Marama was born from a dream by former CEO Thomas de Thierry who, along with Linda, worked unpaid to make it a reality. She was able to bring her architectural skills to the project, including a lifelong interest in ensuring that buildings respond and are sympathetic to their landscapes.

In 2013, Linda became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the community, something she describes as “humbling”.

“It’s like they always say, your journey is never about you; it’s about all the other people who come along.

“It’s not your achievement alone; it’s the achievement of all the others who were with you.”

Find out more about Elemental here.

This content was made in partnership with Auckland Unlimited.

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