Taniwha & Dragon Festival Event


NameTaniwha & Dragon Festival
Date of Event27 April 2013
CityTāmaki Makaurau Auckland


The Taniwha & Dragon Festival was a day-long event organised by Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei and the local Chinese community in 2013, and attended by several thousand people. It began with a pōwhiri, with the iwi welcoming the Chinese community onto Ōrakei marae, followed by kapa haka and dragon dances, the sharing of food, and the making and flying of Māori and Chinese kites.

Advocate for te reo Māori, Andrew Robb, who was working with then-Minister of Māori Affairs Pita Sharples, recounts that Sharples initiated the idea for the Festival in response to a lack of engagement and social cohesion between Māori and new Chinese migrants. “Ngāti Whātua”, writes Robb, "enthusiastically supported the idea of the festival, and they’d reached out to Chinese community leaders to begin months of planning.”

“Ōrākei and Chinese families have lived and worked alongside one another for generations, it’s pretty special for us to be able to celebrate together,” said Ngāti Whātua Chairperson Grant Hawke. “Chinese and Māori peoples are coming together to celebrate a shared history and a shared future,” said Arthur Loo, Auckland Chinese Community chair.

The event was supported by Te Puni Kōkiri, and then-Minister of Māori Affairs, Pita Sharples, who said:

From our ancestors who left Asia millennia ago to settle the vast Pacific Ocean, to our Chinese friends and family who have worked, settled and raised families across Aotearoa over the past two centuries: our eternal ties to Asia can be found in our language, cultures and peoples. Our aim is to revitalise these relationships at the face-to-face community level. [...] Through our amazing ancestors we proudly acknowledge our kinship to China and invite all New Zealanders to come along and enjoy the day at our long overdue, family reunion.

Andrew Robb reflected that “The planning took time because there was a lot of learning for both sides. With a high level of mutual respect, and a healthy desire that neither side would be outclassed by the other, everyone wanted to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding or offence.” But in the end, “it all turned out really well, thanks to Ngāti Whātua’s experience in hosting big events like this – and also to the support of Te Puni Kōkiri and the enthusiasm of the Chinese community.”

Manying Ip, the Head of Asian Studies at Auckland University, attended and said, “Yes we did see the future of New Zealand that morning, with the Dragon dancing so joyously in front of the marae. So symbolic and majestic.”


Last updated: 29 February 2024 Suggest an Edit


A Chinese dragon dance takes place in front of a carved wharenui.

Johnny, Taniwha meet the Dragon, Taniwha & Dragon Festival at Ōrakei marae, April 27, 2013

Taniwha & Dragon Festival flyer, 2013

[pdf ↓]

Taniwha & Dragon Festival schedule, 2013

[pdf ↓]

Hon Dr Pita Sharples, Taniwha & Dragon Festival press release, 2013

[pdf ↓]

Jason Oxenham, 'Festival strengthens ties', Stuff, March 24, 2013

[pdf ↓]

Taniwha & Dragon Festival announcement pack, 2013

[pdf ↓]

Taniwha & Dragon Festival announcement, 2013

[pdf ↓]

Te Puni Kōkiri, 'Taniwha Dragon', Kokiri 29 - Takurua - Winter 2013

[pdf ↓]

Andrew Robb, 'Are Pākehā up for the challenge?', E-Tangata, March 25, 2017

[pdf ↓]