It’s that time of year again; this Saturday will see our Matariki celebrations light up the lakefront once again with all the food, fire and community fun that happens every year.
To us, the Matariki celebrations are a very special thing. It’s not a commercial event, isn’t profit driven and isn’t trying to sell you anything at any point. It’s about a community coming together to produce something special, purely for the community.
We love community, it’s a basic human need, and it’s the sense of community here that makes the Upper Clutha such a magical place. I can’t think of anywhere else I’ve been where so many people are willing to do so much for so little just to help others out. Matariki is a prime example of this.
Nine years ago, our then youth worker Kim suggested we hold some form of Matariki celebration. We looked into a few options and settled on a potluck dinner at the Wānaka Arts Centre. We sent out the invites and well over 30 people came along for an enjoyable evening of stories, weaving and kai. It was here that the seeds of what is now our celebrations were laid.
Some suggested holding it on the lakefront with bonfires, others offered to help with the permits, yet more suggested having a hangi. A year on, and we were on the Dinosaur Park with bonfires, a hangi for 400 people and those amazing fireworks!
Back then, we hand dug the hangi pit behind the A&P shed on the showgrounds. This made is quite unpredictable, and meant we had to transport the food all the way along the lakefront; not ideal. Once again the community got involved and in 2013, with the help of many local businesses and individuals, we built our custom hangi pit in Dinosaur Park from where we’ll be serving up 900 portions for you all this Saturday.
The wood for the hangi fires and bonfires has always been donated, the sheep for the pit donated, the rest of the food at cost or much cheaper and only koha is given for people’s time after costs are covered. Even our brilliant fireworks man does them at cost. It’s magical and humbling to have been so deeply involved in all of this for so long.
Without all of the community pulling together and supporting us over the years, we wouldn’t have been able to create and grow these celebrations. So come down this Saturday, 2:30pm at the Dinosaur Park, and see what your amazing community can do when we all pull together and walk as one.
For more information about Matariki or Kahu Youth, give us a call on 0275709268 or flick us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org