Matariki celebrations gearing up

Pictured: fireworks are a feature of the Matariki celebration at the lakefront.

Kahu Youth, along with members of the Upper Clutha Community, are gearing up for their biggest celebration of the year, Matariki. Marking the Māori New Year, Matariki is a nationwide event and is celebrated in Wanaka annually with workshops, performances, and food. The festival will take place on June 15 (with a contingency date of June 16 for wet weather) at the Dinosaur Park by the lakefront and will involve two bonfires, a fireworks display and a community hangi.

The celebration of Matariki is marked each year by the appearance of the Matariki (or Pleiades) cluster of stars around late May to early June. Once the new moon arrives after the appearance of the star cluster, celebrations begin, lasting for up to three days. The celebration would also coincide with the end of the harvest season for Māori, which was also determined by the disappearance of the seven stars. For the modern New Zealander, Matariki is used as a time for coming together, celebrating the earth, and renewing New Year’s resolutions.

Richard Elvey of Kahu Youth said, “This event could not go ahead without the amazing support of our community. We want to give a big thank you to all of our amazing volunteers, schools and community organisations.” This year’s event is sponsored by Radio Wanaka, Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Wanaka Pantomimers and is part paid for by the selling of Bad Boy fireworks in November last year.

Last year’s celebrations included giant bubble performance art, performances from the ukulele orchestra, among others. This year’s celebrations can only promise more fun activities for all ages to get together as a community to celebrate Matariki. All members of the community are welcomed to join in the festivities on June 15 at the Lakefront.


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