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Matariki to be celebrated with art, food, music and storytelling

Waikato District Council is supporting a variety of events across the district to mark Matariki, the Maaori New Year, which will be celebrated between 25 June and 3 July this year.

The largest of these is the seventh Matariki Festival hosted by Te Whare Toi o Ngaaruawaahia – Twin Rivers Community Art Centre with the support of more than $6,000 from the Creative Communities Scheme and from discretionary Council funding.  

This year the Ngaruawahia festival is based around one of the stars in the Matariki constellation, Tupuaanuku, which is associated with the soil and its bounty, and it includes the development of collaborative ceramic art work in all nine primary and pre-schools in Ngaaruawaahia.  Ceramic artist David Kenny is working with the students to make ceramic tiles to create a Pare (door lintel) as a permanent art work for each school. 

It will culminate in a day of celebration at the Twin Rivers Community Art Centre (2-7pm, Saturday 20 July) to open an exhibition of the art work, including a large mural of the wings of the kotare (kingfisher) created by local tamariki (children) on a related arts programme, with performances by local tamariki and artists, storytelling, a live performance by the Matariki Glow Show and a celebration with traditional kai and mahi toi.

A weekly art class for adults led by David Kenny at the Twin Rivers Community Art Centre will also contribute ceramic tiles for a permanent public art installation on the pergola in the public open square in Jesmond St, Ngaaruawaahia.

Waikato District Council Iwi and Community Partnerships Manager Sam Toka says, “Our district is home to Waikato-Tainui as well as a wider Maaori community and it’s rich in Maaori history, culture and tradition. As well as being informative and entertaining, we hope that our district Matariki activities and events will help to educate, inform and raise awareness of the practices and traditions of Matariki locally and regionally.”

Funding of nearly $4,000 from the Council’s iwi liaison budget will also support:

a Matariki Celebration day of family activities including art, craft, storytelling and food led by the Port Waikato Community Health and Support Services Trust and Art at the Port at Te Whare Oranga o Te Puaha, Ooraeroa Marae, on 29 June

a musical performance by singer/songwriter Teia Kennedy, lit by clay Matariki lanterns, on 22 June at the Raglan Old School Arts Centre Gallery

a one-day community event led by the Waimakariri Maaori Women’s Welfare League focused on the art of harakeke (flax) and traditional protocols

a two-week Matariki ki Waikato art exhibition at Tupu Te Toi Art Gallery in Rangiriri showcasing Maaori artists with links to Waikato-Tainui, from 25 June to 10 July.

The annual Waikato District Libraries Matariki art and poetry competition is also now open, with prizes available in three different age groups. Please pick up an entry form from any Waikato District Council office or library, or download it here: Entries close on Friday 14 June.

If there is a future community project or event for which you are seeking financial assistance, there are a number of funding opportunities available from the Council to help make it happen.  The Council’s Discretionary Grants Fund is open for applications again this week and closes on 5 July, and the Creative Communities Fund is again open for applications on 19 July and closes on 23 August.  The Heritage Project Fund is currently open for applications and closes on 28 June.  For these and other funding opportunities, check details on our website at or email the Council’s Community Development Advisor, Lianne van den Bemd, at

Background to the Matariki Festival 

As part of the region’s annual Waikato Matariki festival, a variety of local events and activities are created in the Waikato district to demonstrate the traditions of Matariki. The Waikato District Council supports our communities as they showcase our district and celebrate their place in the Waikato under the traditional Maaori framework of Matariki.  Their efforts also aim to educate, inform and raise awareness of the practices and traditions of Matariki.

Waikato district events and activities are based across the overall festival’s five key themes: 
• Arts (mahi toi).
• Performance (whakangahau).
• Food (ngaa kai).
• The environment (taio).

• Youth (rangatahi). 

Underlying each of our local events and activities are the festival’s core values: 
• Guardianship (kaitiakitanga).
• Celebrating communities (whakanui ngaa hapori).
• Sharing our world with others (whakaatu te Ao Maaori ki eetehi atu).
• Collaboration (mahitahi).