News & Events

Spring Bonfire to be held in Palmerston North

Wednesday October 21 2020

A large bonfire will mark the beginning of Kōanga, or spring, in Palmerston North.

The event is being held on Saturday 14 November at Ahimate Reserve Beach from 5pm to 10pm.

The Kōanga Bonfire was established in 2018 with Rangitāne to bring the Manawatū River Framework to life.

The framework’s main goal is to ensure that there are more things to see and do at our awa each year.

The event will include some small fires for people to toast marshmallows, a fire performance, a cultural performance, a free barbeque, and the star attraction – a large bonfire.

Rangitāne’s Chris Whaiapu says Kōanga means a change in season from winter to spring and marks an important time in the Maramataka or Māori calendar.

He says Kōanga is important to Māori as it’s the time to re-awaken the garden and begin the preparation for the summer and autumn harvests.

Mr Whaiapu says Ahimate is home to the bonfire event due to its strong history with the use of fire.

“Ahimate was home to Ahimate pā or village where the Paneiri people once lived under Chief Te Kurupou. Ahimate loosely translates to ‘lift tapu by way of fire’ which was something the Paneiri did as a way of lifting the tapu off their loved ones once they’d passed.

“The significance of the bonfire is symbolic of lifting the tapu of the cooler seasons so that our community can enjoy the warmer ones. Ahimate, much like the Ruahine pā site, was also a major kumara and food growing area, so the fire was important for cooking to make “noa” and close the loop of the traditional fire custom.”

City Mayor Grant Smith says the event is a staple on the city events calendar.

“Over the past few years, we’ve loved watching our community fall back in love with the Manawatū River and their enthusiasm for Ahimate Reserve. Events like this are helping to bring our Manawatū River Framework to life. This event provides the perfect opportunity for families to have fun, learn about the history of the site, and look forward to the year ahead.”

The event will be run under the Covid-19 guidelines in place at the time. Sanitiser and a QR code will be at the event. If alert levels affect the event, we’ll provide updates on our website and Facebook page.