2 Jul 2017

Matariki – a community celebration

From Te Ahi Kaa, 6:06 pm on 2 July 2017

In the lead-up to the rise of Matariki on 17 July, Te Ahi Kaa explores how the Māori New Year is celebrated around the country.

In this episode, Justine Murray goes behind the scenes with kapa haka performers at Te Papa's Matariki Rising festival and tours the Te Kahui o Matariki art exhibition in Porirua. 

You can also hear part two of astronomer Dr Rangi Matamua's presentation on the meaning of Matariki.

Kapa haka tutor Kura Simon has ‘crates’ of unreleased music composed by her late husband Morvin Simon, who established the Kaumatua group Te Taikura o Te Awa Tupua o Whanganui.

“I’ll get the chance to go through all of those, and it better be soon…Morvin has a huge repertoire of songs and it’s not always easy to choose, and you have got to pick those ones that the Kaumatua can handle,” she says.

Kura Simon tutors the kaumatua group Te Taikura o Te Awa Tupua based in Whanganui.

Kura Simon tutors the kaumatua group Te Taikura o Te Awa Tupua based in Whanganui. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Kura is the tutor of the group who performed at the recent Matariki Rising event hosted by Te Papa Tongarewa as part of their celebrations, it was attended by five hundred Kaumatua from the around the country, with twenty groups performing.

Maki Clarke from the Kaumatua group Waikato Taniwharau dedicated their performance to the late Kiritokia ete Tomairangi Paki, who died in April this year. One particular song ‘Te Maungarongo’ was dedicated to her.

Maki Clarke of Waikato Taniwharau group that performed in honour of Tomairangi Paki.

Maki Clarke of Waikato Taniwharau group that performed in honour of Tomairangi Paki. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Auckland-based Kaumatua group Te Puru o Tamaki is tutored by Taiaha Hawke and says the group is about looking after each other.

“Matariki is at time for reflection, a time to heal your wounds and kimi rongoā… and prepare for new things to come.

Taiaha Hawke, Lisa Kilkelly, Esther Davis, Connie Mahu, Connie Motu and Matt Maihi. Members of Te Puru Tamaki.

Taiaha Hawke, Lisa Kilkelly, Esther Davis, Connie Mahu, Connie Motu and Matt Maihi. Members of Te Puru Tamaki. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

As part of their celebrations, Pataka Art and Museum in Porirua opened the Te Kahui o Matariki exhibition which is a based on the book written by Libby Hakaraia and the late Colleen Waata-Urlich (1939 – 2015). 

Curator Victoria Clay invited featured artists from the book to exhibit their work.

Ceramic artist Baye Riddell, weaver Kohai Grace and jewellery designer Neke Moa have included their work in the Matariki-inspired exhibition that ends on July 20th.

Dr Rangi Matamua is adamant that first and foremost Matariki is about honouring the dead.  

At a recent presentation in Hastings, he talked about a constellation of stars that represent a waka (canoe) and explained the story of Taramainuku.

“He stands on his canoe takes the kurakura…and he casts our stars, our mate (dead) as stars in the sky, this is the origin of the saying kua wheturangihia koe”.

This episode of Te Ahi Kaa features excerpts from Dr Rangi Matamua's presentation at an event in Hastings hosted by Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi.

Related: RNZ's Puanga Matariki collection