Whangamomona Republic Day: a curious self-proclaimed republic
In what might have been essentially the most weird gross sales pitch of my life, I rallied across the crew within the hostel to promote them the thought of going to vote for a cat in an Election within the self-proclaimed republic of Whangamomona. I didn’t know the right way to pronounce it, I didn’t know if the cat would win, however someway, I satisfied my new discovered mates the Whangamomona Republic Day was an occasion to not miss.
Replace: This text was initially revealed in summer season 2017. The subsequent Whangamamona Republic Day is on twenty first January 2023, particulars right here incase you need to make it occur!
Having based mostly myself in New Plymouth for the primary few weeks of my time dwelling in New Zealand, I used to be rapidly coming to grasp there have been numerous bizarre and wacky issues celebrated right here in New Zealand.
From the large carrots and L&P bottles I’d handed on the highways, to the surprisingly nice New Plymouth mild pageant the place we had seen a fireplace dancer unintentionally launch their flaming button right into a row full of kids within the days earlier than, the squad had been as equally down for embracing Aotearoa’s weird points of interest.
Now, I’m going to say Whangamamona Republic Day was a hit, as a couple of of us have saved in contact and even met up since, in numerous nations and continents. Anna and I even headed off to road-trip Australia and the Bellarine Peninsula the subsequent yr.
So, if you’d like an completely jaw-droppingly unusual technique to bond with new discovered mates, and end up in Taranaki or the Manawatu-Wanganui Area areas of New Zealand each different January, then get your self a passport to the Whangamomona Republic Day and expertise this little slice of New Zealand the place there isn’t even cell phone reception.
Wait, New Zealand has a republic inside it?
This story dates again to 1989 when native councils determined to re-shape the nation by altering the boundaries of areas.
Whangamomona, which was within the Taranaki area, out of the blue discovered themselves being shifted to the Manawatu-Wanganui Area on the plans and had been lower than impressed. The neighborhood in Whangamomona needed to remain a part of Taranaki and on the first of November, they took issues into their very own fingers.
Declaring themselves as a republic in a protest motion, the occasion was extra protest than official, however the celebration has continued, and each different yr the neighborhood has their republic day and it’s relatively distinctive.
The 2019 Whangamomona Republic Day is further particular as this yr, The Republic of Whangamomona is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary!
What and when is Whangamomona Republic Day?
The Whangamomona Republic Day occurs each two years in January and is a celebration of independence and the voting of the president. The subsequent Whangamamona Republic Day in 2019 falls on Saturday nineteenth January and runs between 10am-4pm. The date of the 2021 Whangamomona Republic Day is but to be confirmed however will probably be round mid-month as per regular.
Do you want a ticket for Whangamomona Republic Day?
Sort of! If you’ll be utilizing the buses from Stratford, then you definately’ll must e book and pay for these upfront by way of the tourism board. If not, you’ll nonetheless want to purchase a ‘passport’ to enter the Whangamomona Republic, and these price $5. I believe it’s truthful to say these aren’t official journey paperwork, however you may get your passport stamped when you arrive on the republic.
Oh yeah, and all fundraising and ticket gross sales from the occasion go to assist native causes, resembling well being teams, colleges and supporting youth golf equipment and occasions within the village. Win-win.
So, what occurs if you get to Whangamomona Republic Day?
My morning began within the metropolis of Stratford, Taranaki, the place a number of buses had been shuttling us new passport homeowners all the way down to the Whangamomona Republic. The merry crew from the hostel had opted to drive, however I used to be signed up for the totally fledged expertise.
Winding down the Forgotten World Freeway of Taranaki, the landscapes shifted to rolling inexperienced hills and virtually jungle-like vistas, the panorama was completely different right here, and we had been tracing historical past. The Forgotten World Freeway is sort of an thrilling drive, linking considered one of New Zealand’s least touristy areas, Taranaki, again to the principle freeway.
Whangamomona is tiny, the inhabitants of which wouldn’t even fill a flight, however on Whangamomona Republic Day the roads are closed, and the streets are filled with occasions: some enjoyable, some unusual, and a few simply, effectively, kinda… regarding?!
The second we arrived, we felt like we had stepped again in time. If New Zealand had a Wild Wild West, on first glances, this may very well be mistaken for it. The pleasant locals had been smiling, laughing, and sinking chilly ones within the Whangamomona Resort, the central assembly spot and the Republics pub and lodging.
The neighborhood really feel to the occasion is robust right here, and you’ll inform how pleased and proud the locals are to share Whangamomona with guests, particularly given the crowds generally hit above 1000 on the Whangamomona Republic Day!
Meals stalls complement the Whangamomona Resort so you may chow down on some tasty native treats, suppose Pies, Lemmingtons and all of your different New Zealand favourites.
Performances are placed on all through the day by bands and dancers, and particular visitors are sometimes in attendee together with a high rugby workforce the yr I used to be there.
More strange occasions, which some animal lovers might discover questionable, embody the sheep shearing competitors, possum skinning (possum pores and skin is used so much in New Zealand in the same technique to leather-based) and the wonderful sheep race. You may place guess what number of eels are within the bathtub, or maybe be daring and swim via it. It’s actually price noting all eels make their approach again to the river on the finish of the day and not one of the animals are harmed for leisure.
It’s basically a very good quaint Kiwi day trip, and all of us actually had loads of laughs and recollections to remove.
Native companies are additionally round promoting their items, and if you wish to enterprise out and discover the realm, there are prospects. Scenic helicopter flights over Whangamomona and the forgotten freeway had been working after I attended Whangamamona Republic Day and at solely $50 per particular person for the flight, they had been by far the most affordable I had seen in New Zealand.
The outdated practice tracks right here additionally now play host to little carts and peddle bikes, so you may enterprise off to see a slice of New Zealand historical past if you slip away from the crowds.
The primary occasion of Whangamomona Republic Day is for positive the presidential elections the place anybody, or relatively something, can stand. All of us opted to place our poll down for the pub cat, who mysteriously went lacking simply earlier than the votes had been depend and foul play was anticipated.
Fortunately, the cat turned up, and I acquired to carry him simply earlier than the nationwide information interviewed the cat for New Zealand TV and web sites… yup, advised you it was considerably weird although after dwelling in New Zealand for a bit, I can let you know I’ve seen stranger tales revealed on gradual information days.
Sadly, the cat wasn’t the winner in 2017, and a human got here out ruling supreme. However previously four-legged mates have been the president, together with Billy Gumboot the Goat and Tai the Poodle…. based on my native information analysis, the poodle had an assassination try.
I believe that’s about all I’ve acquired to say on Whangamomona Republic Day, in what may be essentially the most weird article I’ve ever written! However, if you end up within the space, particularly on Whangamomona Republic Day, do swing by for one thing you actually gained’t neglect.
Whereas the remainder of the yr the Whangamomona Republic returns to a extra calm state with far fewer guests, it is a not often visited aspect of the nation and a real New Zealand hidden gem.