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Matariki calls you home


Kia ora, greetings

We’re at a special time of year. A time of remembrance, celebrating the present and looking to the future.

Matariki is the Maaori name for the cluster of stars, that rises in midwinter and for many Maaori, heralds the start of the new year.

The return of the constellation is commemorated by Te Raa Aro ki Matariki 2023, which happens on Friday, 14 July this year. Early in the morning, just before dawn, is the best time to view the Matariki cluster.

The theme for 2023 in Matariki Kaainga Hokia – Matariki Calls You Home.

So, I was excited, honoured and privileged to be asked by Ngāti Karewa, Ngāti Tahinga Trust in Port Waikato to take part in their Matariki Celebration at the Community Hub at Sunset Beach last Friday.

I live in Port Waikato and call the place home. The job has drawn me to Ngaruawahia more often in temporary accommodation - as Mayor the whole district is my home.

But I love being “home home” and Ngāti Karewa, Ngāti Tahinga’s event was fantastic.

I was joined by Deputy Mayor Carolyn Eyre and our Acting Service Delivery General Manager Megan May to take on “starring roles” on stage.

We, along with others, paraded on a catwalk displaying our interpretations of the nine stars of Matariki. We also gave a short speech on our understanding of our stars.

I was dressed as Tupuārangi – the fourth star. Tupuārangi is associated with food that comes from the sky and is linked to birds. It is also connected to the harvesting of elevated foods such as berries and fruits.

Deputy Mayor Carolyn was Waitī - the fifth star. Waitī is connected to fresh water and living creatures in the rivers, streams, and lakes.

And Megan was Waipuna-ā-rangi - the seventh. Waipuna-ā-rangi is connected to the rain. The name itself means "water that pools in the sky".

To round off our involvement in the event, we were under the watchful eye of our Tuakau-Pokeno Ward Councillor Kandi Ngataki who was one of the judges.

Ngāti Karewa, Ngāti Tahinga Trust’s aim of the event was to involve and encourage the local community of Port Waikato to have a better understanding of the significance of Matariki. They did just that. It was superb.

And that seems to be happening nationally. Our newest public holiday, officially titled as Matariki Observance Day, is on Friday.

There is a live streaming on TVNZ at 8pm on Friday of Purapura Whetū Stars of Matariki celebrating Matariki through music.

And there is the Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s dedicated website, packed with information, event details and stories.

So, do enjoy this long weekend with whanau and friends, remembering those you have lost over the past year, celebrating the present and the people in your life and looking forward to all that may come your way over the next year.

Maanawatia a Matariki!

Ngaa mihi nui and warmest regards, 
Mayor Jacqui Church