Fiesta fires up region

One of few events to go ahead in Covid’s wake delights crowds

Maddisyn Jeffares





There were doubts beforehand, but the first My Vaccine Passport mandatory event to be held in Hawke’s Bay has seen visitors descend in record numbers. Fiesta of Lights organiser Te Rangi Huata said he was surprised at this year’s turnout during the orange traffic light setting, and had only turned a few people away. Most outdoors Christmas and New Year’s Eve events in Hawke’s Bay that had walk-up crowds were put on hold and then eventually cancelled. It meant the annual light festival held at the Tomoana Showgrounds was one of the only events left standing. Huata said he was worried people may not show due to vaccine pass enforcement. “However people clearly voted with their feet, and turned up in large numbers.” New Year’s Eve was the fiesta’s biggest night, the only commercial fireworks display in Hawke’s Bay and one of three held in the North Island. He said it could push them to the biggest turnout in 23 years, but it wouldn’t be certain until the final crowd comes through on Sunday. “People were happy to show their vaccine pass, they just wanted to go out with their friends and families again,” Huata said. Because everyone who entered the Fiesta of Lights had to be vaccinated, Huata believes it made people feel that they were in a safe space, “as safe as a house”, he said.