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Whanganui Opera Week
Opera and Aroha on the River

Whanganui Opera Week is a highlight of my year. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the New Zealand Opera School and the inaugural Opera and Aroha on the River was held in celebration. It was a uniquely Whanganui event with riverboats Waimarie and Wairua being the stage for opera singers and the Putiki Marae Waka threading its way up the Awa carrying waiata performers.

I spent time in the company of NZ Opera School & its director Donald Trott, patron Dame Jenny Gibbs, opera tenor Simon ONeill, artistes- Sol3Mio, Amina Edris, Kristin Darragh, Claire Caldwell (voice tutor & mentor), Jonathon Alvers and the Opera talent of Samson Setu, Ipu Lagaia & Manase Latu.

I had the pleasure of listening to Samson and Ipu practicing in Whanganui Collegiate School Chapel - where five generations of my whanau have also sang in chapel services, albeit at a different standard!

To have a snippet of the talent we heard click here to listen to Samson and Manase with their band The Shades.

Whanganui Vintage Weekend

Whanganui Vintage Weekend is a fabulous event in Whanganui and is well worth putting in your calendar for Auckland Anniversary weekend next year. It’s tagged as Whanganui’s biggest party and is a celebration of everything vintage – things from our past which deserve celebrating, especially if it’s the best of its kind. This year is the 7th year of Vintage weekend -. I think it’s now woven into our city fabric. My thanks to the organisers for a fantastic weekend Here's a video.

Masters Games

I attended joy to attend the Opening Ceremony of the NZ (Sports) Masters 30th anniversary in Whanganui, my first as Member of Parliament. As a former masters competitor it was fantastic to be hosting as Whanganui’s MP at such a local national celebration of sport and camaraderie. It was great to be a spectator at a number of events cheering on many friends of all ages.


I visited with Hamish and Kate Dunlop on their Quinoa farm in South Taranaki. Hamish and Kate’s business, NZ Quinoa Co was double award winner in the 2019 NZ Healthy Food Awards. Their farm is one of two quinoa farms in the north island.  It was a fascinating visit and an example of farming diversification in South Taranaki.

Fenton St Collective Stratford

I spent time with Stuart Greenhill and Jo Stallard owners of the Fenton St Collective. They rejuvenated and earthquake strengthened a heritage building on Fenton Street, Stratford. We had a robust discussion about the challenges and regulations of earthquake proofing.

The Fenton St Collective is a café, art gallery, and gin distillery. It’s well worth a visit when you’re in Stratford.


The commemoration of Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana’s, founder of the Ratana faith, birthday on 25 Jan is the beginning of the political calendar. For me it is an opportunity to show my colleagues parts of Whanganui – I took Hon Judith Collins to meet Karen and Joe at the Honest Kitchen – and to rekindle connections. It’s always a pleasure to talk with Dame Tariana Turia!

Patea’s Pae Pae in the Park

I celebrated, commemorated, and enjoyed 2019’s Waitangi Day at Patea’s  Pae Pae in the Park. This is a fantastic event – my thanks to the STDC and organising committee.  I thoroughly enjoyed the celebratory atmosphere and community vibe.

Check out their facebook page for more info.  Here's a video I took capturing part of the day.

Whanganui Gypsy Fair

I really enjoy being part of local events and the opportunity to meet with people and talk with them about their lives. I enjoy engaging with people from all walks of life. A recent memorable conservation was with an ex-prisoner. It was interesting to hear his views on the New Zealand Justice System, especially rehabilitation for inmates. Feel free to come and chat if you see me!

Te Pohu o Tuariki Campus

I attended the official opening celebration off Ngati Apa's Te Poho o Tuariki campus - formerly Turakina Maori Girls College in Rangitikei. I am also of Ngati Apa through my paternal grandfather Koro Hori's mother Nanny Ema Hipango nee Maremare of Tini Waitara marae at Turakina. Proudly Ngati Apa.

Here's a link to Whanganui Chronicle article if you’d like to read more.

Until next time – Go well.

Ma te wa

Harete Hipango
MP for Whanganui

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