The Whakarongotai Marae was abuzz as Waikanae School children gathered to celebrate Matariki.
Matariki, also known as the Maori New Year, occurs when the cluster of stars also known as Pleiades – the seven sisters, becomes visible in the night sky. From the Maori perspective the stars represent a whanau of seven the mother and six daughters. Traditionally it is a time of showing respect to the whenua (land) and admiration to mother earth, Papatūānuku. It is also a time for learning about family heritage and history and this featured in the creative activities Waikanae School students joined in with.
Following the welcome by the marae kamatua Rakauoteora Te Maipi (Koro Don) and a reply from Waikanae School principal Bevan Campbell, the child were then able to participate in a range of creative Matariki focused activities run by some of the teachers, which included making large Matariki sister puppets, weaving and folding Reranga Ika (stars), creating pepeha booklets, listening to Matariki stories, and making Matariki star lanterns which project star patterns when lit with a tea-light candle.
Many Maori see Matariki symbolising growth, a time of change, and a time of preparation for future events. Being six months from summer, the New Year celebrations are also viewed as a chance to ignite or reignite aspirations for the future, which was the challenge left with the students.