’Third time lucky’: Popular waterfront festival to celebrate 10th anniversary after two false starts

Thousands packed Mangōnui’s main street for the ninth Waterfront Festival in 2020 — but the 10th-anniversary event has been a long time coming. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Organisers of Mangōnui’s Waterfront Festival are hoping it’s a case of third time lucky as they get ready for the 10th anniversary of an event that generally attracts up to 5000 people for an afternoon of food, fun, stalls and music.

The milestone was to have been celebrated in 2021, but had to be cancelled when the country went into Covid alert level 2.

The 2022 festival suffered a similar fate — that time due to crowd-size restrictions under the Covid traffic light system — but the organising committee is confident this time, nothing can get in the way of Doubtless Bay’s biggest event on Saturday.

Organiser Jodi Betts said the festival had come a long way since its beginnings in 2012 with one performance stage, 40 stalls and about 1000 people.


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This year 5000 people were expected, and the event is to boast three stages and almost 100 stalls.

“Third time lucky, they say. Everyone, locals and visitors, is pumped and ready. At this time last year, people were still a bit reluctant to [attend] big events, but not now. It’s absolutely going ahead.”

Betts said many stall holders who took part in the first festival would be back, along with a wide range of new ones offering everything from bromeliads and nail painting to Mexican cuisine. Bands that had been booked for the past two years were excited to finally get a chance to play for their home crowd.

The paddle board challenge, which was part of the original programme in 2012, was also coming back, she said.


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It would be the first festival since Mangōnui’s new boardwalk was built.

That would allow for a better flow of festival-goers, as well as a better connection between the water and activities on land.

Father-and-son duo Gibz and Jeff Harris will be back for the 2023 Mangōnui Waterfront Festival. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Father-and-son duo Gibz and Jeff Harris will be back for the 2023 Mangōnui Waterfront Festival. Photo / Peter de Graaf

As in previous years, volunteers would play an important part, with, for example, Mangōnui Lions Club operating a shuttle bus from the parking areas next to Mangōnui ITM and at Mangōnui School.

There would also be a free hourly shuttle between Taipā and Mangōnui wharf with stops at Coopers Beach and Cable Bay.

Betts said the event was a celebration not just of Doubtless Bay, but all of the Far North, as well as a chance to catch up with friends and make the most of a belated summer.

The five bands playing on the main stage will include Kurfew, JTB and the Sound Loungers, while more mellow musicians will perform on the Chill Stage.

Some of the Far North’s top young musicians — including the Kaitāia College Jazz Band and the prize-winning No Vacancy — will perform on the Be Free Youth Stage.

The ninth Waterfront Festival, in March 2020, was the last big public event in Northland that year before the country went into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

■ The 10th Mangōnui Waterfront Festival will run from noon to 6pm this Saturday, March 11. Entry is $10 for adults, a gold coin for kids and free for under-fives. Waterfront Drive will be closed to traffic between 550 metres south of Mabel Thorburn Place to 50m north of Tasman St from 7pm on Friday to 7.30pm on Saturday.

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