NZ second longest running Community Festival
The Kowhai Festival is a community festival, that takes place every October in and around Warkworth. It’s organised by a dedicated group of volunteers, who are maintaining a tradition since 1970, celebrating all the things that make Rodney such a great place to live, work and play – gorgeous scenery, delicious food and wine, talented artists and musicians, diverse culture, fantastic recreational opportunities and, above all, a welcoming and supportive community spirit.
48th Kowhai Festival
18 December 2017
The Kowhai Festival Committee has decided to hold the Huge Day Out on Saturday, 28 October 2017. It’s the first time, the main event of the festival was held after Labour Weekend, but it didn’t influence on the success of the Huge Day Out. For weeks in advance the stall sites were sold out and the weather played its part, although a few showers came down in Auckland, which had an impact on visitor numbers from the city. One of the highlights was the newly set-up dog show, which has been organised by the Warkworth Dog Club. Well trained dogs showed off what they’ve learned and it proofed to be a big success with the audience. The Halloween theme has had mixed reactions, but a lot of stallholders and shop owners took it up and dressed accordingly. So did many kids, who came along, enjoying the entertainment provided along Baxter and Queen streets.
Events around the festival proved to be as popular as ever, with the Great Debate (sponsored by Mike Pero Real estate) for the first time held at the newly restored Town Hall and the outdoor movie night (sponsored by Barfoot & Thompson).
- Ascension Wine Estate
- Barfoot & Thompson Real Estate
- Bridgehouse Lodge
- Buckton Consulting Surveyors
- Department of Conservation
- Free Range Wine Company
- Hire Works
- Insite Security
- Hart Pharmacy
- Mahu City Express
- Mahurangi College
- Mahurangi Matters
- Mason Bins
- Mike Pero Real Estate
- MoreFM Rodney
- Noel Leeming
- Open-Air Cinema
- St. Johns
- Warkworth Business Association
- Warkworth Library
- Warkworth Lions
- Warkworth Rotary
- Warkworth RSA
- Murray Chapman (Chair)
- Ray Harrison (Finance/Sponsorship)
- Dianne Hopgood (Secretary)
- Warwick Massey (Consents)
- Phil Tyler (Music/Merchandise/Stages)
- vacant (Stalls)
- Angela Thomas (Promotion)
- Urs Bauer (Website/Social Media/Movie Night)
- Shona Pickup (Volunteers)
- Cynthia and Justin Oliver (Garden Bar)
- Gary Martin (Dog Show)
- Jim Sonerson (Canoe Showdown Link)
- Peter Bishop (Traffic)
- David Parker (Walk & Cruise)
By Ken Fearnley
(published as letter to the editor in Mahurangi Matters)
The festival was really the brainchild of Jack Keys; Jack was a very modest man and would never have claimed to be the inventor.
Jack was the driving force, the energy and the creator of the festival. Back in 1970 almost anything done around Warkworth was done by the three main service clubs: Lions, Rotary and Jaycee. Jaycee’s was the most active of the three service clubs, its very nature – young men aged between 18 years and 40 years – ensured the energy required for its many projects. Jack came to me, a member of Jaycee in mid 1970, with the Kowhai Festival idea. He knew that if Jaycee would support the idea, then the other clubs would follow suit.
Jaycee’s got behind the festival with great enthusiasm. A Kowhai Festival committee was formed, its members made up of the three service clubs. I was voted chairman and Jack, representing Rotary, was secretary. It was decided to have a week of fun. We had no money, but didn’t see that as a problem as each event would be self funded or provided by its promoter. My favourite event was the Old Time Music Hall, each of the artists came from the local community, the Town Hall was packed out, beer served and there was much laughter to accompany it. One act has stuck in my memory. The artist was Gordon Cummings, the local Traffic Officer.
Gordon strode up to the microphone and began to sing. The hall went silent as each person there was enthralled by his wonderful singing voice. When he finished the applause nearly brought the roof down. The festival’s beginning took many hours of dedicated activity from those on the committee and the many clubs, organisations and individuals involved. It is wonderful to see the result of those who dedicated so much time and effort to get it off the ground, develop into something that gives so many a great deal of pleasure.
Click on the below photo collage to get to the Kowhai Festival gallery on our Facebook page: