Matariki at the marae

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Hakatere Marae co-ordinator Tania Reuben and Hakatere Marae project manager Brenda Leonard.
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After two successful Matariki events at Hakatere Marae the sub committee planning this year’s celebrations are looking forward to another great community event.

Matariki celebrations will be on July 1 and organisers are expecting a crowd of around 3000 people, similar to previous years.

Hakatere Marae project manager Brenda Leonard said following feedback from previous attendees, the start time has been moved forward to 2pm.

The event will finish before it gets too cold, ‘‘but it does mean we won’t see the stars,’’ Brenda said.

Hakatere Marae co-ordinator Tania Reuben said before the introduction of calendars and clocks ‘‘Māori used the stars to tell the time.’’

This is the second year New Zealand has had a public holiday for Matariki. ‘‘The holiday has certainly meant more people are interested in Matariki and this means the public have come out to the marae for the celebrations,’’ Tania said.

With the introduction of the holiday Brenda said, ‘‘Kiwis have a greater awareness of what Matariki is and there is a desire to understand the Māori culture as a result of this.’’

Celebrations will include a hangi, which can be purchased, but numbers of meals available will be limited to 250 for a two meat and vegetable option.

There will be numerous stalls selling kai and crafts many of which will be indigenous related, recycling education, musical entertainment including the Cook Island community and a local Kapa Haka group, Hauora conducting free health checks, children’s activities, static displays and information on Matariki. Take cash for the kai and craft stalls.

The Matariki celebrations is a free event for the whole community including families. The event will go ahead regardless of the weather unless conditions are adverse.

The date of New Zealand’s Matariki public holiday this year is July 14 but the star cluster can be seen anytime between late June to July.

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid winter and for many Māori, heralds the start of a New Year.

‘‘To allow people to travel to bigger celebrations in places like Christchurch, the (Hakatere) marae have chosen to hold their celebrations early,’’ Hakatere Marae project manager Brenda Leonard said.

There are nine stars in the Matariki cluster. Each of the stars in the cluster is connected and has a purpose.

The first star called Matariki is connected to health and wellbeing.
The second star is Pōhutukawa, is connected to the dead and those who have died in the past year.

The third star is Tupuānuku is associated with food grown in the ground.

The fourth star is Tupuārangi is associated with food that comes from the sky and is linked to birds.

The fifth star is Waitī is connected to fresh water and living creatures in the rivers, streams, and lakes.

The sixth star is Waitā (twin of Waitī) is associated with the ocean and represents food gathered from the sea.

The seventh star is Waipuna-ā-rangi is connected to the rain.

The eighth star is Ururangi is connected to the wind.

The final star is Hiwa-i-te-rangi which is connected to the promise of a prosperous season. It is also known as the wishing star.

One of the most popular events at the marae’s last celebrations was the lantern lighting which concluded the evening. The lantern is a symbol of lighting and brightening the path for the Māori new year.

‘‘Watching the lanterns lift and sail off until they are just blimps in the sky was a particularly meaningful part of the our event,’’ Brenda said.

If people want to light a lantern and send it off into the night sky they are encouraged to bring their own lantern.

Marae co-ordinator Tania Reuben said they were ‘‘fortunate to have sponsors, community involvement and volunteers to help with this event and we are thankful for this support to enable us to provide this event free for the community.’’

Due to the marae’s location in a 100km an hour section of State Highway one, a traffic management plan is in place to ensure people can safely enter and exit the off road parking.

The celebration is on July 1 from 2-6pm.