Golden 50th Kowhai Festival


It’s time to celebrate the Golden 50th Kowhai Festival, New Zealand's second longest running community festival. With a packed programme running throughout October, the festival offers events to cater for all ages, from toddlers to seniors, with the 'Huge Day Out' celebrations on Sunday 13 October in Warkworth.

The festival begins with a celebratory planting of a new Kowhai tree at the Boat Ramp in Warkworth on 1 October and ends with a Ukulele Festival on 27 October at the R.S.A. There are many extra events such as a heritage walk for children, river excursions on the historic Jane Gifford, a mobility scooter derby at Summerset, variety shows by the Warkworth Theater Group, a festival concert by the Warkworth Music Society and a teddy bears' picnic and parade at the Kauri Parry Park, hosted by Warkworth Museum on Sunday 20 October, 10am-3pm.

Huge Day Out: Sunday 13 October

Kowhai Festival's new musical director Steve Popham, has organised mainly local performers and bands for this year's stage at the wharf. The show starts at 9am and includes the Matakana Kapa Haka Group, local bands Left Foot Kick, Latakana and Pipi Pickers, as well as artists Andy Richards, Seven Zen, Aysha Robertson and Fiona McGeough, Jade River Ukes and The Jazz Connection. The main act is the awesome band White Chapel Jak, hitting the stage at 4pm until the garden bar closes at 6pm.

The ‘food strip’ at the Warkworth wharf has always been a highlight and with an extended garden bar offering local beer, wine and food, it will be definitely worth a visit. It'll be close to the main stage, so you won’t miss a beat!

Besides over 100 stalls, there will be entertainment for kids including a 30m long obstacle course from 9am until 3pm. The Warkworth and Districts dog training club will entertain the audience with several agility demonstrations. The Puhoi Axemen and the local Tai Chi Group will also show off their performance skills. 

An added special event this year will be the walking parade starting at the town hall at midday and moving along the main street with music and floats built on New World shopping trolleys.

Great Debate: Friday 18 October

The Warkworth Great Debate takes place at the Warkworth town hall and has become one of the pivotal events of the Kowhai Festival, consisting of two rounds of light-hearted debating adjudicated by local celebrity Darryl Soljan. The moots are: 'Men gossip more than women!' and 'Are children necessary?' which will make for an entertaining night. Sponsored by Mike Pero Real Estate, this event will raise funds for the Warkworth/Wellsford Hospice. 

Outdoor Movie: Saturday 19 October

The 11th Kowhai Festival Movie Night runs at Shoesmith Domain with a screening of ‘The Greatest Showman’, with music and coffee from 7pm, the film will start just after 8pm. Sponsored by Barfoot & Thompson Real Estate, families are welcome to bring their own seating and picnic to the event for a relaxing evening.

Susannah Marshall