Maori culture celebrated for Waitangi Day in Minto

February 6 is one of the most important days on the New Zealand calender — Waitangi Day.

With close to 4000 Campbelltown residents born in New Zealand, it’s an important day for many locals as well.

Waitangi Day marks the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, where representatives of the British Crown and more than 500 Maori chiefs signed what is considered to be the Land of the Long White Cloud’s founding document.

The South West Multicultural and Community Centre in Minto marked the day last week with a special celebration attended by more than sixty people.

‘‘It was a wonderful day,’’ community centre coordinator Mal Fruean said.

‘‘It was organised entirely by our Urban Youth Council, so the young people organised and prepared the whole day.’’

The youth council currently consists of 10-15 members from ages 12 to 24, and meets every month at the centre to plan events such as Waitangi Day.

‘‘Community members and Maori elders and leaders all attended the event,’’ Ms Fruean said.

‘‘A young man spoke in the native tongue and that was appreciated by the elders — it’s great to see the young people speaking the language.’’

Young Samoan singer Gaylene Faatonia took to the stage to perform on the day in Maori language, which the elders also appreciated greatly.

‘‘For her to get up and sing a Maori song in front of all those elders was very brave,’’ Ms Fruean said.

‘‘The elders in the room were so blown away by her — they said she sang it beautifully.’’

Ms Fruean said the event was attended not just by the Pacific community, but also by members of the Lebanese, South African and Aboriginal communities.

‘‘It was lovely to celebrate Waitangi Day for us [the Maori community], but it was quite and honour to share it with our friends from other communities,’’ she said.

Waitangi Day also served as a launch for the centre’s adult Maori language class Te Kopu O Te Reo, which follows last year’s successful launch of the pre-school incarnation of the class.

For more information on the South West Multicultural and Community Centre visit www.swmacc.org.au.

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