Ngāti Awa Pull Together for Matariki Whakapiri 2023

Ngāti Awa Pull Together for Matariki Whakapiri 2023

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa and Te Whare Wānanga a Awanuiārangi are collaborating once more to host Matariki Whakapiri at Te Manuka Tūtahi Marae in Whakatāne on Thursday, July 13.

A public event for the Mataatua rohe and Whakatāne community to celebrate the Māori New Year together, the two organisations hosted the inaugural Matariki Whakapiri festival last year. As a result of positive feedback from the community and attendees, both organisations decided to establish it as an annual event.

This year the festival will follow the previous year’s schedule and start with a pōhiri and karakia followed by Kapa Haka performances from at least eight groups. Each group will perform a bracket of waiata that takes no longer than 15 minutes, which must include a song about Matariki.

In the evening, Ngāti Awa storyteller Pouroto Ngaropo will share his narratives about Matariki. Performers, including Eve Lyford, Shelley Akuhata and Maisey Rika, will then take to stage and entertain the crowd until the festival is closed with a karakia at 7pm. The festival will also include a market where people can purchase food and other items and a family-friendly activity station with bouncy castles, face painting and other entertainment.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Manahautū (Chief Executive) Reuben Araroa said this year the national theme for the celebration was Matariki kainga hokia.

“Matariki kainga hokia has a goal to inspire people to return home and spend quality time with their loved ones. It also aims to capture the wairua (soul) of the event while speaking to people of all ages and backgrounds to encourage their participation with Matariki.

“For Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, this means creating a space and opportunity for this to take place where our iwi and hapori (community) can celebrate and embrace the uniqueness of Ngāti Awatanga as a way of appreciating Matariki.

“As always we are delighted to collaborate with Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiarangi. Again this opportunity reflects our strong relationship with each other and demonstrates how we can lead initiatives to strengthen our community relationships as well. We are grateful for the support from Vaughan and the team and look forward to bringing Matariki alive at Te Manuka Tūtahi Marae for all our community to experience and enjoy.”

Mr Araroa said he was also grateful for the funding support from philanthropic organisation BayTrust.

Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi Executive Director – Academic Vaughan Bidois said the inaugural Matariki Whakapiri was such a success.

“We enjoyed working with Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa last year to create a free event for the Whakatāne community to come together to celebrate Matariki and we are looking forward to pulling together this year’s festival.

“This year, at least eight teams will perform kapa haka brackets where we can actively see and be part of cultural practices that connect us to each other and to the past. Through the market, we will be able to share kai and time with each other, and we are grateful the time that notable storyteller Pouroto Ngaropo is so willing to share his knowledge on this beautiful time of the year. It is appropriate that we come together and share these aspects as these are all part of the things that define us.”

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars that rises in midwinter and for many Māori heralds the start of the new year or te Mātahi o te Tau. The appearance of Matariki in the morning sky is a sign for people to gather, to honour the dead, celebrate the present and plan for the future.

In 2022, Matariki became an official public holiday in Aotearoa and this year it will be marked on Friday, July 14.

Rongoānuku Blossoms as new Ngāti Awa Pākihi

Pākihi Stories: Rongānuku

Rongoānuku Blossoms as new Ngāti Awa Pākihi

Anyone who has visited the Nuku homestead on Brabant Street in Whakatāne over the past six decades will know the origin story of Rongoānuku.

A large section, the house and land provided a home for Dave and Hilda Nuku that sustained their 13 children and continues to be an ūkaipo for their uri. In the garden, even today, are the reminders of their legacy – a vegetable garden, pā harakeke and plants to cure numerous ailments.

And it was here in the garden where the first seeds were planted that would eventually blossom into Rongoānuku.

A new Ngāti Awa business, prioritising selfcare and offering contemporary rongoa products that have been designed to make it easy to incorporate into modern lifestyles, Rongoaānuku is owned by Ani Nuku – a daughter of Dave and Hilda.

With whakapapa to the hapū of Ngāti Rangataua, Ani is a proud Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Pūkeko wahine and says the business is a manifestation of her desire to create economic flexibility and freedom in her own way.

“I started Rongoānuku because I’ve always resonated with traditional healing and herbal remedies,” she says. “Growing up I wasn’t a fan of my Mum’s traditional concoctions, I knew rongoā was good for me but struggled to get it down. After several years of experimenting, I finally created something I felt was good enough to market.”

Ani launched Rongoānuku online in April this year. She says during her time of cultivating her business idea, she studied rongoā in Ōpōtiki through Te Wānanga o Aotearoa to help bring it to fruition and graduated in May of this year.

“In December 2022, I finished working in a social services role and made the big decision to focus on launching Rongoānuku. It has been a huge learning curve finding suppliers, packaging, legal requirements and learning to set up a website and online store while balancing home life, but the challenges have been worthwhile.”

The first collection to be released was Rongoā Latte, a tasty blend of nutrient superfoods combined with the benefits of rongoā, which have been blessed and blended in Whakatāne.

She says her focus now is to grow and promote Rongoānuku.

“A goal is to expand the availability of our products by partnering with aligned stockists, thereby making rongoā more accessible to those who seek it. I am currently working on expanding our product line and hope to have new offerings available shortly.

“In the future, I envision having a dedicated space where we can craft a unique ceremonial experience by combining rongoa and our own indigenous practices, offering our own version of a cacao ceremony.”

Through Rongoānuku, Ani has become the latest member to join the Ngāti Awa Pākihi register, which provides support for businesses owned by those from within iwi.

For more information or to place orders, the Rongoānuku website can be found at: Otherwise, if you want to register your business as a Ngāti Awa Pākihi then you can contact Taihuiranga (PMO) Engagement Officer Courtney Reneti at