WORDS: JULIA WADE
PHOTOS: NINA GASTREICH
16 Jan, 2023
Scores of visitors and locals crowded onto the grassy fields of the Mangawhai Domain on January 2 for the facility’s legendary Gala Day 2023; a feast of carnival enjoyment from horse rides, face painting and service displays to tasty food and beverage and musical entertainment. A multitude of stall holders provided a fun day of shopping, showcasing an array of art, crafts, clothing and creations.
Made possible due to the hard work and energy of over 100 volunteers – including environmental watchdogs Sustainable Kaipara who were on task to advise gala-goers about waste reduction and recycling options – this year’s event was sponsored by the area’s new New World supermarket which opened in October 2022.
As the gala is the major fundraising opportunity for the facility, and with last year’s event cancelled due to Covid restrictions, Mangawhai Domain Society (MDS) members were nervously watching the forecast due to predictions of wild wet weather, MDS chair Mike McGarry says.
“Then on the day the rain held off and the grey sky kept us all cool, the only negative was a nasty easterly wind,” he says. “Our initial numbers indicate over 7000 people attended the gala and revenue was up on prior events held before Covid came along. The event can only be described as a great day out for all ages.”
Entertainment included the ‘Dungareen Van’ ukulele band who played with local crew ‘Totally Uked’ followed by the anchor band ‘DNA’.
“At one stage we handed the microphone over to an older gentleman who sang an old Hank Williams number, ‘Hey Good Lookin',” Mike says. “The performance generated huge applause from those around him, such a touching moment. Thanks to our sound man, DNA member Nick Mallasch, for his support with the entertainment.”
Unknown to many in the community, Mangawhai Domain is not overseen by Local Government, but is actually collectively-owned by people who reside in the Mangawhai Beach School zone and is a society as well as a registered charity. Although MDS receive grants from Kaipara District Council for facility improvement, the annual gala is the biggest generator of finance ‘and the support of locals will keep this fabulous resource intact and going forward.’
“There are very few facilities like this in New Zealand and the Domain committee are humbled by the support of stall holders, volunteers, contractors, entertainers and the people who attended,” Mike says. “Our sincere thanks to all these people who made this successful gala possible, they have all contributed to the ongoing well-being of our much-loved Domain.”