19 Jun 2015

Matariki dawn ceremony returns to Maungakiekie

9:12 pm on 19 June 2015

A dawn ceremony to welcome in Matariki - the Māori new year - is returning to Maungakiekie - Auckland's One Tree Hill tomorrow under the auspices of the Maunga Tupuna o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority.

Matariki is the name for the cluster of stars known as the Pleiades. When it rises in the north-eastern skies in late May or early June, it signals to Māori that the New Year will begin.

Matariki is the name for the cluster of stars known as the Pleiades. When it rises in the north-eastern skies in late May or early June, it signals to Māori that the New Year will begin. Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Filip Lolić

Traditional karakia or prayers will be held at the summit of the maunga which will be led by mana whenua, the first time that's happened since 2013.

The organiser of the festival Anahera Higgins from the Auckland Council, said it will start just after 5am.

"We have transport available to take our whānau to the top of Maungakiekie where the mana whenua led karakia will take place," she said.

"The pukaea (traditional trumpet) will be played, the women will perform the karanga, or call to welcome the manuhiri (visitors) to the maunga.

Anahera Higgins said the profile of Matariki was getting bigger every year and people had started to realise how significant the event was.

"It's important for Aucklanders, or for all New Zealanders, but particularly for people in Tāmaki Makaurau to help them understand our teachings of Te Ao Māori," Ms Higgins said.

"If we look at the kaupapa surrounding Matariki itself, it is about giving thanks, it's also about bidding farewell to those who have past [died] in the last 12 months, and it's also about holding on to those traditional teachings for future generations."

Anahera Higgins said a group of Hawaiians will be there and Ngāti Whatua kaumatua, who will lead the event.

The blessing on 20 June officially signal the start of Auckland Council's month-long family focussed festival, celebrating the rise of the Matariki constellation and the start of the Maori New Year.

Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority chairperson, Paul Majurey, said it was a historic occasion because it was the first Matariki event on the Tūpuna Maunga since their return to the 13 Mana Whenua tribes under the Tāmaki Collective Treaty settlement legislation in 2014.

"Matariki at Maungakiekie signals the future partnerships between Mana Whenua and Auckland Council which will achieve significant positive outcomes for Tāmaki Makaurau."

For Arts and Culture Committee Chair, Alf Filipaina, it was a poignant reminder of the importance of maunga to Maori. "It's exciting and fitting to be able to gather with local iwi on Maungakiekie to herald in Matariki and acknowledge the special connection between mana whenua and the city."

Festival Director Anahera Higgins is thrilled the event is at Maungakiekie given the significance of the Tūpuna Maunga to the 13 iwi/hapū of Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau and all Aucklanders.