Waikanae children mark Matariki with Maori ceremony

Story and photos by Peter Corlett

The Whakarongotai Marae was abuzz recently as Waikanae School children gathered to celebrate Matariki.  

Matariki, also known as the Maori new year, occurs when the cluster of stars also known as Pleiades – the seven sisters, becomes visible in the night sky.  From the Maori perspective the stars represent a whanau of seven – the mother and six daughters.  

Traditionally it is a time of showing respect to the whenua (land) and admiration to mother earth, Papatūānuku.  It is also a time for learning about family heritage and history and this featured in the creative activities Waikanae School students joined in with.   

Koro Don in action again

First there was a welcome by the marae kamatua Rakauoteora Te Maipi (Koro Don), and a reply from Waikanae School principal Bevan Campbell.

Freyer Spenser and Kelly Cranshaw create their star lanterns.

Then the children took part in activities run by some of the teachers– making large Matariki sister puppets, weaving and folding Reranga Ika (stars), creating pepeha booklets, listening to Matariki stories, and making Matariki star lanterns, which project star patterns when lit with a tea-light candle.

Many Maori see Matariki symbolising growth, a time of change, and a time of preparation for future events.

Being six months from summer, the New Year celebrations are also viewed as a chance to ignite or reignite aspirations for the future, which was the challenge left with the students.