RAIN OR SHINE: Thousands attended the seafood festival to enjoy great food entertained by some awesome renditions of Kiwi music. D9469-012

THOUSANDS gathered at the Whakatane Seafood Festival on Saturday to enjoy the best seafood the North Island has to offer.

The organising committee say the event, held at The Heads, was a huge success with a huge selection of seafood available on the day coupled with positive vibes and great music.
Patchy spots of rain did little to deter the crowds with people turning out in droves to the ticketed event.

New Zealand reggae band Tomorrow People headlined the event, and radio announcers and DJs from Whakatane’s radio stations Tumeke FM and SunFM kept the kina eating competition interesting and the crowds entertained.

The Moana New Zealand fish filleting competition saw up to a dozen teams compete for the top spot, with Gibbos Fresh Fish being the winner, followed by Vaitoa Mataleilei from Moana fisheries in second and Gisborne Fisheries Simon Eder in third place.

Last Kina Carvers were the winners of the SUNZ Kina eating competition.

Money raised from the festival goes to Coastguard Whakatane, helping it to help Eastern Bay boaties stay safe on the water.

Coastguard Whakatane president Isaac Tait says the event was a huge success and much needed given the recent tragedy on White Island and the recent callouts and deaths in the waters in and around Whakatane.

“Our resources have been absolutely stretched to the max, so this fundraising event has been very timely.”

He says the crowds really enjoyed themselves and it was all due to the organisers of the event.

Families came from far and wide, including Gisborne and Rotorua, to spend quality time together at the festival which is in its second year.