Marae invites community to celebrate Matariki

    Te Runaka o Awarua kaiwhakahaere Dean Whaanga (left) and Matariki project leader Jay Coote are inviting the whole community to celebrate Matariki at the Bluff marae.

    Toi Maori (Maori art), local purakau (stories) and the cosmos are set to converge at the Bluff marae, under the Matariki stars.

    During Matariki, Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff will host a four-day event, from June 23-26, to celebrate the significant time for Maori with the Murihiku community.

    Matariki is the Maori name for the cluster of stars also known as Pleiades, which rises in June and signals the Maori New Year.

    Project leader Jay Coote said it was a time to remember those who had died since last Matariki and celebrate new beginnings, as well as being a period of reflection and regeneration.

    The date was much more than just a holiday, he said.

    “It is significant to Aotearoa New Zealand. This is probably one of the first holidays which is actually significant for where we are on the planet, celebrating our indigenous culture and people.”

    Te Runaka o Awarua kaiwhakahaere Dean Whaanga agreed.

    He said the whole event was designed for the community to come to the marae to learn more about the stories around the celebration of Matariki from a Ngai Tahu perspective in Murihiku as well as normalise the Maori New Year into the community.

    “The stars are a timekeeper for us and we want to share the knowledge and the stories with the community.

    “This is a new holiday or a new day that has been put aside to recognise the importance of this period. And what is great about this is that it is a Maori tradition that hopefully will become a tradition for all New Zealanders.”

    Plenty was planned for the four-day celebration for anyone to get a truthful experience of Maori culture, Mr Coote said.

    There will be a marae trail which will display the stories of the stars of the Matariki cluster, weaving and carving workshops, kapa haka performances, kai (food), daily storytelling with Mr Whaanga, among other activities.

    On Saturday and Sunday, buses will be available from Queens Park to encourage everyone to attend the event and a sound system will be placed at the entrance of the gate to re-create the powhiri — and welcome everyone on to the marae, he said.

    “We hope we can break those barriers and show that our marae is a place for everyone. We want the whole community to come, learn and celebrate with us.”