Kahu Youth Matariki Celebrations Photo Supplied

The Matariki Public Holiday became official on 11 April, when Te Kahuni o Matariki Public Holiday Act 2022 received royal assent.

Matariki is both the name of the Pleiades star cluster and the celebration of its first rising in late June or early July – this is the beginning of the new year in the Maori lunar calendar.  The first official public holiday will be held for Matariki on Friday, 24 June this year.  The date will shift each year to align with the Maori lunar calendar.

Associate Minister for the Arts, Culture and Heritage, Kiritapu Allan, said at the time that it is a historical moment.

“Today is a day of maturation for all of us, where we can look to our own selves, our own people right here, to let those laws, those principles, those philosophies guide who we are – all of us that live in this nation.”

“Matariki will be a distinctly New Zealand holiday; a time for reflection and celebration, and our first public holiday that recognises Te Ao Māori,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Most Central Otago towns plan to take a low-key approach to celebrations this year, as a time for whanau to focus on:

Remembrance – honouring those we have lost since the last rising of Matariki;

Celebrating the present – gathering together to give thanks for what we have;

Looking to the future – looking forward to the promise of a new year.

Wanaka’s Kahu Youth will be celebrating on Saturday, 25 June at Dinosaur Park and Lakefront, with kapa haka, waiata (song), storytelling, a variety of fun-filled activities, fire displays, hangi and the evening will conclude with spectacular fireworks display.  A koha will be asked for the hangi.

Anna Sutherland, Operations Director, says,”Kahu Youth Trust is absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to bring our community together to connect and celebrate Matariki, the Māori New Year!!  The celebration provides an opportunity to gather as a community to reflect on the year that has been and refresh, reset and rise for the year ahead. We are incredibly grateful for all the help and generosity we are receiving from QLDC and the local community towards this event. Thank you – we simply couldn’t do this without this support.”

For more info including event timings please visit kahuyouth.org

Arrowtown is planning a three-day cultural event, Matariki Arrowtown Lights, on 24-26 June.  This inaugural event will showcase visual storytelling and stunning light displays and projections down Buckingham Street.

It will include performances by local Kapa Haka school groups and an astrophysicist sharing the wonders of the Otago night skies.

Organised by The Arrowtown Promotion and BusinessAssociation, in conjunction with the Arrowtown Charitable Trust, it will be a complimentary event for all ages.

Organises say, “After the tough few years we’ve all had, we are ready to celebrate life, our Aotearoa heritage and to be reminded how lucky we are to be where we are, with our clear night skies and stunning environment.”

Although it will be a school holiday, our local schools are planning a Matariki focus.