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.