MURIHIKU Matariki Cultural Trust is shining a light on Matariki celebrations in the south.
Chairman Jay Coote said the goal of the newly-formed trust was to educate Murihiku about Matariki and to encourage more people to recognise and celebrate the event.
The more people involved in the celebrations, the more ownership the community had over the event and the bigger its impact, he said.
Matariki celebrations had enjoyed somewhat of a “renaissance” in the past few years and the trust wanted to keep the momentum going, he said.
Matariki is the Maori name for a cluster of nine stars visible in New Zealand at a specific time of year, signalling the start of the Maori New Year.
Mr Coote said it was a time when whanau came together, celebrating new life, remembering those who had died and planning for the future.
“I have a passion for getting people together for a common goal… and Matariki is a good platform [to do that].”
There were more Matariki events planned in the region than ever before.
“No matter what the weather is doing, everything is going ahead, so wrap up, keep warm and come along,” he said. All the events are free.”
Matariki celebrations in Southland begin with the Glengarry Fire and Light Midwinter Festival at the Eastside Baptist Church on Saturday.
The following weekend is the two-day evening Timatanga Hou, Te Ara Hou Matariki Festival at Queens Park, including a hikoi, a light and art display telling the story of Matariki and entertainment.
Mr Coote said trust members could answer questions and provide community and school groups with resources about Matariki, including craft ideas and cultural games.
The Matariki star representing well-being was the focus of this year’s celebrations.
Matariki events were being supported by Arts Murihiku, Invercargill City Libraries and Archives, Invercargill Public Art Gallery and Harakeke Down South, with funding from the ILT Foundation, New World South City, ICC Creative Communities and Community Trust South.