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.
We’re celebrating the ‘Golden 50th’ Kowhai Festival this year! So there will be many extra events taking place between 2 and 27 October 2019.
Please let us know if you want to be involved or have an event, that needs support during this time. We’re always happy to help!
- Ascension Wine 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
- The Travelling Cinema Company
- Ray White Real Estate
- St. Johns
- Warkworth Business Association
- Warkworth Library
- Warkworth Lions
- Warkworth Rotary
- Warkworth RSA
- Murray Chapman (Chair)
- Trudy Franklin (Finance)
- Ruth Mills (Sponsorship/Stalls)
- Daryll McNab (Sponsorship)
- Dianne Hopgood (Secretary)
- Hueline Massey (Consents)
- Steve Popham (Music)
- Barry Houlbrooke (Kids Entertainment)
- Karen Bower (Kids Entertainment)
- Angela Thomas (Promotion)
- Urs Bauer (Website/Movie Night/Stage)
- Melanie Marnet (Social Media)
- Shona Pickup (Volunteers)
- Cynthia and Justin Oliver (Garden Bar)
- Gary Martin (Dog Show)
- Peter Bishop (Traffic)
- David Parker (50th / 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.