Matariki: Government injects $15 million from tourism fund into future Matariki projects

Matariki celebrations have meant many hapū and iwi across Aotearoa New Zealand have been able to revitalize cultural traditions in their own way.

The Government has decided to back the revitalisation of these traditions by injecting $15 million from the tourism fund in support of Matariki projects to further Māoridom and their efforts.

Descendants of Kawa Marae celebrated their fourth Matariki with a small campfire on the northern shores of Aotea, Great Barrier Island and this one was extra-special.

"Whakamīharo tēnei kaupapa, it was an awesome kaupapa. This was the first time for us here at the marae to have a hautapu ceremony. To give an offering to the whetu of Matariki," Jarred Waetford of Ngāti Rehua Ngāti Wai ki Aotea told Newshub.

The intimate ceremony may have been small but the Ngāti Rehua Ngāti Wai ki Aotea hapū have occupied the island for many centuries.

Waetford said they recently revitalised the way Matariki is celebrated.

"It's only been in recent years that we've started to revitalise this kaupapa, like this hautapu ceremony, so we have to start somewhere."

Kawa Marae chairman Jan Piahana said it took months of planning to make the event happen.

"Planes and boats are the only way we can get onto the island and even the kai for our celebration."

It's a first time for generations at Kawa marae to hold a hautapu ceremony, a tradition almost lost but now being revitalised here and across Aotearoa New Zealand.

Just across the sea in Mahurangi, Ngāti Manuhiri celebrated Matariki differently by connecting to the star Waitā - the star associated with food harvested from the sea.

They used the occasion to help restore the mauri of the Hauraki Gulf by re-establishing mussel beds.

In Tekapo, Ngāi Tahu are part of owners of the Dark Sky Project.

On Saturday, Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua, Te Rūnanga o Moeraki, Te Rūnanga o Waihao and the Mackenzie District Council geared up for their multi-day Matariki Mackenzie festival.

Associate Tourism Minister Peeni Henare was in Tekapo after the tourism ministers announced their support for future Matariki projects.

"Tourists and Kiwis alike will be travelling to beautiful places like Mackenzie and so it's important to have the infrastructure to support that."

While back on Aotea, Great Barrier Island at another dark sky sanctuary, stargazers at Good Heavens are in full support of Māori telling their story for Matariki.

Good Heavens stargazer Hilde Hoven said: "To me, it's really heartwarming to have this (Matariki) as a national holiday in NZ, it's long overdue."

A way forward for Māori reigniting their history, some learning alongside other New Zealanders how to celebrate Matariki in Te Ao Māori.

This article is part of Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

This article is part of Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.
This article is part of Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.