Matariki ki Waikato: Holiday a major milestone with the festival set to be equally momentous

A magical week of events is being staged at the Waitomo Caves. Photo / Supplied

Celebrating, recharging, community and connecting is what Matariki is all about, says Marleina Ruka, who is the chair of Te Ohu Whakaita Charitable Trust and the Matariki ki Waikato festival.

Matariki has always been honoured in Tainui with the Te Paki O Matariki insignia present on the Kīngitanga flag. The trust established Matariki ki Waikato in 2009 to create wider awareness of the Māori new year and its meaning, launching its annual celebrations on the date closest to the birth of Kingi Korokī, as the Matariki constellation was seen on his birth date.

Fast forward to 2022 and New Zealand is about to celebrate the first national acceptance of the Māori new year with a public holiday on June 24.

Waikato people are being urged to buy, eat, visit, stay, explore, experience, and meet and attend events in their own region. Photo / Hamilton and Waikato Tourism
Waikato people are being urged to buy, eat, visit, stay, explore, experience, and meet and attend events in their own region. Photo / Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

Ruka says this is a major milestone and the Matariki ki Waikato festival 2022 is set to be equally momentous.

Matariki ki Waikato will be launched on Friday, June 17 in Te Parapara Garden at Hamilton Gardens with the Te Karanga O Te Tau Hou beginning at 6am with a dawn ceremony. During the ceremony those who have passed during the past year are remembered and then the start of a new year is acknowledged.

“The Honorable Nanaia Mahuta will kōrero about the Government’s support for Matariki and the legislation that was involved in establishing the public holiday in its honor,” Ruka says.

More than 300 guests are expected at the ceremony and the following breakfast in Hamilton Gardens Pavilion, including kaumātua, community groups and representatives, iwi, not-for-profit organizationisations, councillors, and politicians.

“Many of our festival events are free. We have plenty of celebration and learning opportunities for our mighty Waikato whānau as well as visitors to the Waikato region. The Matariki ki Waikato events cater for our tamariki (children) all the way up to our treasured. kaumātua (elders).

“At the highly popular kite day at Hamilton Gardens, you can see children and their whānau, sometimes up to three generations, flying kites very much in keeping with the Matariki spirit of strengthening whānau and community relationships,” she says.

Our rangitahi (youth) and pakeke (adults) will find there’s plenty to entertain them with the variety of music such as LAB, dance, observatory workshops and theatre during the festival.

“For our kaumātua there is the unforgettable Waikato Tainui Matariki Kaumātua Ball at Hamilton Gardens Pavilion next Friday evening.”

Ruka says, as chair of the trust and the festival, the following whakatauikī, Māori proverb, is especially meaningful at Matariki:

Ki te Kotahi te kakanoa ka whati, ki te kapuhia e kore e whati – alone we can be broken; standing together, we are invincible.

Hamilton Waikato Tourism has highlighted the following events among the other hero events during this year’s Matariki ki Waikato:

Manu Tukutuku Kite Day, Hamilton Gardens, June 16: A fun whānau event to learn how to make and fly kites, and about manu tukutuku, the traditional kites used by Māori to celebrate Matariki. Manu tukutuku were also used for recreation, as well as a means of communication and for divination (seeking the knowledge) of the future or the unknown by supernatural means).

Learn about the traditional kites used by Maori to celebrate Matariki. Photo / Supplied
Learn about the traditional kites used by Maori to celebrate Matariki. Photo / Supplied

Matariki Star Walk, Hamilton City, June 17 to July 17: A 30-minute self-guided walk around Hamilton City locations to discover the legend of Matariki and her six daughters.

Early Morning Matariki Viewing, Hamilton Observatory, June 24 and 25: Hamilton Astronomical Society is hosting early morning (5.30am to sunrise) viewings of the Matariki stars at the observatory (near the zoo on Brymer Road).

Matariki ki Waitomo, Waitomo Glowworm Caves, June 24 to July 3: A magical week-long festival is being staged at the Waitomo Caves. Events include twilight cave tours in English and Te Reo, an interactive Māori rongoā (traditional medicine) workshop and on July 2 a special evening of music and dining in the caves.

Follow the Stars – Scavenger Hunt, Hamilton Zoo, June 24 to July 17: By following the seven stars positioned around the zoo, you can learn about the Matariki stars and go into a draw to win a Hamilton Zoo family annual pass.

Toi o Te Tau Hou, launch, The Meteor Theater, Hamilton, June 25: Over the next 12 months 20 Māori and Pasifika artists will take part in this arts and culture project creating works that will be displayed during Matariki 2023. The artists – 10 tuakana (established) artists and 10 teina (emerging) artists – have been selected by an independent panel. The project has funding from the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage as part of Government support for the revitalisation of the sector following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hamilton Astronomical Society is hosting early morning (5.30am to sunrise) viewings of the Matariki stars. Photo / Supplied
Hamilton Astronomical Society is hosting early morning (5.30am to sunrise) viewings of the Matariki stars. Photo / Supplied

Matariki at the Museum, Waikato Museum, Hamilton, July 9: A day-long programme including weaving demonstrations, children’s crafts, painting, music, storytelling, mirimiri (traditional massage using clay) and a panel discussion with local artists.

Matariki Glow Show, Claudelands Events Center, Hamilton, July 15: This giant scale glow-in-the-dark puppet show tells the Matariki story accompanied by upbeat music. There are show times to suit two age groups – up to five years and six-12 years.

Matariki Ahunga Nui Matariki Kanohi Iti, The Meteor Theater, Hamilton, July 16: An evening of live entertainment, fashion, pop-up shops and food. The three-course meal incorporates traditional Māori ingredients.

For all events visit the Matariki ki Waikato website or download the Matariki Aotearoa app.

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