Island Bay Festival

Wellington isn’t called the coolest little capital for nothing – there’s always something going on!

On Sunday, February 10 it was the Island Bay festival. Island Bay is a suburb of Wellington with a gorgeous beach and amazing views – right into the Cook Strait.

(See the map, circled in red. The green circle is where we live, and the blue circle is the city beach)Wellington-map

A little girl is trying to push her dog into a slide


A little disconcerting


A plane preparing to land in the Wellington AirportIMG_2838 IMG_2788 IMG_2883


IMG_2762The festival program promised the unearthing of hangi. (To find out what hangi is, see

But for hangi to be unearthed, it first has to be placed in a pit in the ground and covered with rocks – which, unfortunately, they have been unable to do due to very sandy soil. Instead, they took it to marae to be cooked there (A marae (in New Zealand Māori, Cook Islands Māori, Tahitian)  is a communal or sacred place that serves religious and social purposes in Polynesian societies and then brought back to the park where the festival was taking place.

I was slightly disappointed, as I`ve already tried hangi, but haven`t seen how it’s made. But oh, well, I still had some, right on the beach


10$ hangi: steamed chicken, pork, sweet potato (kumara), normal potato, pumpkin, stuffing.

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There were lots of market stalls with food (Maori: kai), souvenirs, clothes, tattoos etc. The best thing I bought was this 2$ darling:


Another important part of the festival is Blessing of the Boats

THERE’S an Italian tradition that’s kept alive at Island Bay, the annual blessing of the fishing boat fleet. In southern Italy, where most of Island Bay’s Italian immigrants claim their heritage, the blessing of the boats was given by the local priest every spring. Fisherman decorated their vessels with flags and sailed past a boat carrying the priest, who sprinkled holy water while reciting prayers for protection and prosperity.
Island Bay’s first blessing of the boats was a commemoration service in 1933 for the Santina and her crew of four fishermen who were lost in a storm off Baring Head. (

It was a really beautiful ceremony: amid the sound of crushing waves and seagull cries, the sound of a bagpipe was brought to the shore with every gust of wind. The boats sailed up to the boat with the clergy to be blesses and then circled the harbor.

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