It was a wet start to the weekend, but the skies cleared in time for hundreds of colourful kites to take flight for Matariki Kite Day on Sunday, 19 June.
Around 2,800 people flocked to Fergusson Park to enjoy the warm winter’s day, fly a kite, and watch the New Zealand Kitefliers Association (NZKA) put on a spectacular display.
Lauren Jones, Tauranga City Libraries Children and Teens Programme Specialist, says it was a wonderful day for the community to enjoy.
“It was touch and go for a little while, so we were thrilled the weather came through for us in the end and we were able to go ahead", Lauren says.
“There were heaps of happy families and it was awesome to see so many of them bring their own kites and enjoy having fun flying together in the sunshine. We also had over 300 kites crafted in our kid’s activity tent.
“The NZKA had some amazing kites up in the air too. Kids and adults alike loved spotting a giant SpongeBob SquarePants, Mario and Luigi, a whale and a massive orange octopus," she says.
Lauren says the magic of Matariki Kite Day is the great excuse it provides families to get out of the house in the middle of winter, spend quality time together away from the screens, and enjoy being amazed by incredible kites.
“It’s not every day you see a sky full of kites. Families attending said there was a great community vibe and that it was the ‘best day ever’.”
The first Matariki Kite Day was held at Fergusson Park back in 2015. Organised by Bernie Johnson, Tauranga City Libraries Kaihapai Whakarata Māori, it was a day that had a similar close call with the weather.
“Because the event is weather-dependent, I remember being very nervous in the days leading up to the first Matariki Kite Day, especially the night before when Ray McCully, the NZKA's coordinator, quietly whispered, ‘cross your fingers and hope we fly’,” says Bernie.
“My smile was as big as the sun when I awoke to a gorgeous warm winter day. I'll never forget arriving at the park and feeling my heart sink as I walked across a windless pitch watching kite surfers enjoy the breeze ‘over there’ on the moana. I recall taking a breath and feeling a gentle pat on the shoulder. It was Ray who in his own unique way shared that what I was seeing was a good sign and the ‘real kite fliers’ were about to put on a better show."
“The day turned out to be perfect for kite flying, with up to 1,200 in attendance. It’s fantastic to see how much the event has grown over the years.”