Tagata Pasifika The Pacific voice on New Zealand television since 1987

Pacific Peoples celebrate Mānawatia a Matariki, Māori New Year

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
The Matariki star cluster. Photo: RNZ
Gladys Hartson | Senior Journalist

Aotearoa New Zealand had its inaugural Matariki public holiday on Friday, a celebration that tangata whenua have marked for many years, and acknowledges the beginning of the new year in the Maori lunar calendar.

Matariki is described as a time for iwi and communities to come together and celebrate. 

On Friday, a pre-dawn hautapu ceremony took place at Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington followed by the Celebrate Matariki – Mānawatia a Matariki broadcast that included waiata, kapa haka, music, panel discussions an address from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The panel discussions explored the themes of Matariki. Remembrance – reflecting on the year that has been and remembering those who have passed; celebrating the present and what we have; looking to the future – focusing and planning for the new year.

For Pacific people who share a rich heritage in both worlds this is an opportunity to hear their perspective. 

We asked Auckland Councillor Alf Filipaina and Kaitauawhi (early childhood educator) at Te Kohanga Reo ō Mōkai Patea, Aniva Simi, both of Maori and Samoan descent, to share what Matariki means to them.

Auckland Councillor Alf Filipaina. Photo: Pacific Media Network

Councillor Alf Filipaina
Ko Alf Filipaina toku ingoa 
Marae: Te Huruhi in Awarua
Hapu: Ngati Mahia 
Iwi: Ngati Hamoa, half Maori half Samoa
Mother: Sissie Remana (Lemon) from Awarua in the North.
Father: Aloese Ailolo Tavita Filipaina from the village of Faleatiu in Upolu Samoa.

  1. Councill Filipaina, what does Matariki mean to you?

Matariki is about aiga/whanau coming together, reflecting on the past year, remembering our loved ones who have passed on over the previous 12 months, aspirations you want to consider for the next 12 months. Doing what you want to do on the day.

  1. Can you share with us some of the background of what Matariki is?

From my personal perspective growing up and speaking with Nanny Mama and Nanny Papa (grandparents) on my mum’s side, they always said to us that the stars will let you know when to grow our vegetables, best time to fish and that it was our (Maori) New Year. (There are so many stories of how Matariki, the star cluster was formed, I don’t want to use one or the other, so as not to offend any of our Iwi.)

  1. Coming from a rich background of both Maori and Samoan heritage, what is your message for the country on why Matariki is part of Aotearoa’s rich culture and history?

Matariki is part of our culture and history: because it recognises and acknowledges our indigenous New Year and we are the first country in the world to do so with a Public Holiday, specifically for Matariki, how cool is that.

Early childhood educator Aniva Simi. Photo: Supplied

Aniva Simi
Ko Aniva Simi toku ingoa
Ko Tākitimu te waka o Aorangi te maunga
Ko Ngāti Hinemanu te iwi
Ko Ngāti Paki te hapu
Ko Hautapu me Rangitīkei ngā awa
Ko Winiata te marae
Ko Winiata Te Whaaro te tangata
Aniva hails from the villages of Fasito’otai, Fasito’outa and Fagali’i in Upolu Samoa.

  1. Aniva, what does Matariki mean to you?

Matariki is the many elements that connect your body & mind with the people, land, water & sky. You don’t necessarily need to be of Māori descent to grasp the importance of Matariki & Te whānau Mārama.

  1. Can you share with us some of the background of what Matariki is?

As a learner of this subject, my perspective of Matariki & Te Whānau Mārama is how our ancestors relied on to help our people create traditions that ultimately meant the sustainability of our people throughout the seasons.

Without the knowledge that our ancestors had about the effects stars & moon had on the land & water, who would know where our culture will be?

  1. Coming from a rich background of both Maori and Samoan heritage, what is your message for the country on why Matariki is part of Aotearoa’s rich culture and history?

Matariki is a beautiful doorway into Te Ao Māori, once you start your journey into Matariki you will feel a sense of belonging between you & your surroundings. The relationship between you & nature will change, the relationship between you & Te Whānau Mārama will change. You will have a different perspective of life and why it is important to continue learning about indigenous traditions.

Matariki is not a time to capitalise on it and make money, it’s a time of growth within yourself.

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