Healthy Families Rotorua is currently creating an eco-system to hear people’s thoughts on having a permanent space in the city to host Matariki ceremonies.
The Matariki kaupapa combines two Healthy Families Rotorua initiatives, Māori Systems Regeneration and Built Environments/Active Transport, to improve the health and wellbeing of our community.
Lead systems innovator, Pirihira Whata, says Māori systems regeneration is a preventative pathway, drawing on cultural wealth to advance health and wellbeing.
She says this approach normalises and encourages the use of mātauranga Māori practices and frameworks to sustain whānau in challenging times, and to achieve prosperity and healthier environments.
“The built environment encompasses the places and spaces where we live, learn, work, and play. Research shows when people feel connected to the places they live, learn, work, and play they have positive health and wellbeing outcomes,” she says.
To kick-start this kaupapa, Pirihira and the Healthy Families Rotorua team will kōrero with Matariki practitioners and tōhunga, and people who practice these rituals in our rohe, along with kaumātua and the council.
“We need to understand people’s mindsets around Māori systems regeneration, in terms of Matariki as a public holiday, and a physical place to celebrate,” says Pirihira.
“There are a lot of possibilities and people will have all kinds of creative ideas. We want to hear these ideas and have these conversations.”
Pirihira says the newly erected, Ngā Pou Whenua o Tūhourangi, at Te Pūtake o Tawa within the Whakarewarewa Forest, is a great example of the built environment having a positive impact on the community.
“The installation of the taonga provided mana whenua the ability to share kōrero of their tūpuna. Descendants say they now feel more connected to their people and whenua, and they frequent the space regularly. Meanwhile, visits from people with no familial ties to the area have increased.”
She says another example of Māori systems regeneration influencing the built environment is the Ātea a Rangi Star Compass in Napier.
“The whenua, while rich in local Māori and European history, was neglected and used as an illegal rubbish dumping site for years. It now boasts impressive carvings which depict the rising and setting points of the celestial bodies, a resource used by tūpuna Māori to navigate sailing waka throughout the Pacific Islands,” says Pirihira.
“Over the past few years, we’ve noticed the rise and popularity of Matariki events, such as the Hautapu and Te Umu Kohukohu Whetū. In 2022, Matariki will be marked as an official public holiday in Aotearoa for the first time in our history.
“We’d love to meet with our community and cultural experts and gather insights and ideas about how Rotorua might celebrate Matariki in a unique approach. A way that creates a special place and space in the built environment to bring community together in the true spirit of Matariki,” says Pirihira.
If you’re interested in being a part of the kōrero, please email Pirihira Whata on firstname.lastname@example.org