This week the government announced the Matariki holiday dates for the next thirty years. The public holiday will shift each year to align with the luna calendar and will always be celebrated on a Friday.
“This will be the first public holiday that recognises Te Ao Maori (Maori world) and will be one that is uniquely New Zealand”, Acting Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Peeni Henare announced.
Matariki is the Maori name for the Pleiades and refers to a cluster of stars that rises in mid-winter, marking the start of the Maori New Year.
Next year, on 24 June, we will celebrate our first Matariki public holiday together. In 2022 the date will move to 14 July, and the year after to 28 June.
The celebration of the new public holiday will be informed by such key values as unity, sharing, feasting, coming together, and environmental awareness, and the purpose is to connect with loved ones, reflect on the past year and prepare for the one to come.
Locally, the Cromwell community has this year had many opportunities to celebrate Matariki. On Monday, 5 July, the schools and early childhood centres launched a beautiful, precious book of words and images telling the purakau (old stories) of the area.
This was followed on Tuesday evening by a capacity crowd gathering to see an uplifting performance from all the local schools and early childhood centres in a Kapa Haka celebration of Matariki.
On Thursday evening Cromwell College students held an open night, highlighting Matariki crafts, jewellery and art, and providing an array of food for whanau.
As a new addition to ‘Light Up Cromwell’, in partnership with Cromwell Youth Trust, the Winter Glow Silent Disco was held on Friday, especially for our youth. A silent disco happens when the music comes via a personal headphone, and those selecting the same music are identified by the coloured lights on the headphones. Finally, we witnessed another spectacular ‘Light Up Cromwell’, a perfect gathering of family and friends of all ages, to welcome Matariki, celebrate our beautiful world and feel gratitude for our lives and our community.