Get ready for Matariki to take a starring role in mid-winter family events around Christchurch.
Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It disappears for about 28 days during mid-winter and when it reappears on the horizon – this year from 13 to 16 July – the Māori New Year begins.
Matariki is a time for whānau and friends to come together to reflect on the past year, remember those who have passed away, and prepare for the seasons ahead.
Christchurch’s annual children’s festival KidsFest, held in the winter school holidays from Saturday 4 July until Sunday 19 July, has several Matariki-themed events this year.
Christchurch City Council Manager of Events and Arts Lucy Blackmore says Māori New Year is becoming more widely celebrated each year and it’s a great fit with KidsFest.
“We’re all about families having fun and learning together so having some Matariki events in our line-up is wonderful and a great way to teach children about the importance of reflecting, celebrating together and moving forward.”
Guided lantern-lit KidsFest Matariki Night Walks beside the Styx River on Saturday 11 July and Saturday 18 July are fully booked but families can join a Nightlife Lantern Walk through Pūtaringamotu/Riccarton Bush and discover some of the wildlife that only comes out at night. The self-guided trail runs every evening of KidsFest between 5.30pm and 7.30pm and a trail guide will be available to print off from 4 July from KidsFest in Parks.
The Council’s Parks team is also hosting Matariki planting events during KidsFest, including two at the Rongoā Garden on Marshlands Rd on Sunday 12 July. They are an opportunity to join rongoā (traditional healing) practitioners as they celebrate the Māori New Year with a karakia and tree planting to symbolise new beginnings.
The dawn planting will be followed by a hui to share wishes for the year to come, and a second family-friendly planting event (an accredited Children’s University event) will be held at 10am at the same location.
Or join neighbours, friends and Council park rangers for a Matariki planting experience at the new West Broken Run Reserve in Wigram on Friday 17 July at 10am.
The KidsFest Matariki Discovery Trail offers free, self-guided trails for children to try at Halswell Quarry Park, Ferrymead Park, The Botanic Gardens and 303 Radcliffe Road Reserve throughout the festival.
The aim of the trail is to find each of the nine stars and there are fun facts and activities at each stage.
Christchurch City Libraries is celebrating Te Iwa o Matariki – the nine stars of Matariki -digitally this year with weekly Matariki posts and stories, songs and craft activities on the libraries’ Facebook page.
A Matariki workshop Wananga Ao Te Mārama will be held by rongoā practitioners Maire and Aperehama Kipa on Saturday 11 July from 1.30pm to 3.30pm in the Ngā Purapura / Activity Room, Level One, Turanga Central Library.
People can write in and describe what Matariki means to them and have it published on the Canterbury Stories digital heritage site, from 13 July onwards.
The COVID-19 lockdown and uncertainty around public gatherings meant the libraries weren’t able to plan their usual extensive programme of Matariki events and family activities this year.
A community Matariki event that is going ahead this year is Matariki in the Zone at Avebury Park in Richmond on Sunday 19 July. From Monday 20 July to Friday 26 July Light Site lighting displays will be left in the area for people to enjoy at night time.