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Matariki: A Time of Reflection and Renewal


Annual Matariki celebrations in Hamilton have become a prominent city event over the years (Image Supplied)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, June 25, 2024

Matariki, the Māori New Year, is a time of reflection, remembrance, and renewal. It is celebrated when the Matariki star cluster, also known as the Pleiades, rises in the winter sky.

This significant event marks the end of one agricultural year and the beginning of another, highlighting the importance of the stars in guiding planting and harvesting cycles.

In the Waikato region, Matariki has taken on special significance, with various traditions and celebrations emerging over the years, bringing communities together to honour their heritage and look forward to the future.

Hamilton’s Annual Celebration

Hamiltonians are ready to with their whānau and friends for a free, family-friendly event filled with live music, children’s activities, delicious kai, and market stalls.

Hamilton City Council, in partnership with Matariki Ki Waikato, is hosting a mid-winter celebration at Hamilton Lake Domain to mark Te Maatahi o te Tau- the Māori New Year.

Organisers hope this event will become an annual tradition for the city.

Janet Carson, Council’s Partnerships, Communication and Māori General Manager, highlighted the evolving traditions surrounding Matariki in the Waikato region. “For Hamilton, I hope the lake Matariki event will become one of those traditions, something for all the city to enjoy and something whānau will look forward to each year.”

Theme for the year

The 2024 celebration will be held on Friday, June 28, from 2pm to 7pm at Hamilton Lake Domain. This year’s theme, “Matariki heri kai,” is derived from the Māori proverb “Matariki whetū heri kai,” meaning “Matariki the bringer of food.” This theme emphasises the importance of the stars in our existence and their influence on harvesting and planting cycles.

Mayor Paula Southgate praised Hamilton Lake as a prime location for the festivities. “Matariki is unique and special to Aotearoa and a time for friends and whānau to come together, remember the past, celebrate the present, and look to the future,” said Southgate.

In a move to reduce waste, vendors will offer a $1 discount for using reusable containers or cups when purchasing food and drinks on site. The event will also feature performances by artists such as Zentarge, Mia Downing, Son & Water, and a kapa haka group from Te Pou o Mangatawhiri.

Waikato Museum Celebrations

Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato is offering free Matariki activities from June 21 to July 21, 2024.

  • Te Whare o Pūhutukawa Daily 10am to 5pm, June 21 – July 21, 2024, the event will remember those who have passed away by adding a star to the digital interactive at Waikato Museum.
  • Matariki Kōrero: Piripi Lambert at 3pm, June 28, 2024, A public talk by Māori astronomer Piripi Lambert, will be a highlight of the Matariki Family Festival.


A still from the movie, “Ka Whawhai Tonu – Struggle without End” screened as part of Matariki Film Festival in Hamilton (Image Supplied)

Indigenous Creative Showcase

The Matariki Film Festival at Lido Cinema, Hamilton will showcase the work of New Zealand’s indigenous creatives. This year’s headline film, “Ka Whawhai Tonu: Struggle Without End,” directed by Mike Jonathan and starring Jason Flemyng, Paku Fernandez, Hinerangi Harawira-Nicholas, Cliff Curtis, Temuera Morrison, and Miriama Smith, is set in 1864 New Zealand. It tells the story of a pivotal battle in the country’s first land wars from the perspective of two young teenagers.

The festival, developed in Northland in 2022 and now in Hamilton for the first time, features films acted, directed, produced, and filmed by Māori. Each year, it highlights films showcasing Māori culture and history. The festival’s success is supported by Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga, the New Zealand Film Commission.

Matariki is a time for all New Zealanders to reflect on the past and celebrate the future together. The community is invited to participate in these enriching cultural events.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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