A traditional hautapu will feature in Rotorua’s first ever Matariki civic ceremony to celebrate the Māori New Year.
Healthy Families Rotorua lead systems innovator, Pirihira Whata, has been collaborating with Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Uenukukopako, Ngā Pou ō Whakapoungakau, Rotorua Lakes Council, Te Tatau o Te Arawa, Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust, Matariki exponents and whānau representatives to develop the city’s umu kohukohu whetū ceremony.
The ceremony honours those we have lost since the last rising of Matariki, celebrates the present, and looks to the future. An earth oven will be lit before sunrise, before welcoming the New Year with kai offerings to the Matariki star cluster.
Pirihira says Healthy Families Rotorua had been looking at a way to commemorate the significant cultural event in a community civic context.
“We activated community leadership to regenerate mātauranga Māori in the Matariki space. Early conversations involved kōeke, kura, tōhunga and other people who carry traditional knowledge who were keen to ensure Rotorua and Te Arawa created a special Matariki event.
“We wanted to revive Matariki to a point where it becomes normalised to our tamariki and mokopuna. It’s important to reflect on the true meaning and intent of Matariki – remembering the past, celebrating the present, and looking to the future. It’s a time to come together as whānau, while reconnecting with the environment,” she says.
Mana whenua will take the lead so the tikanga and integrity of the umu kohukohu whetū ceremony is protected.
“Although Matariki will be celebrated in many different ways, finding champions to work alongside mana whenua has been integral to the creation of an annual ceremony we can all be proud of,” says Pirihira.
Rotorua’s inaugural Matariki civic ceremony is being held on Friday 24 June at Motutara Point.
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