Tihei: Matariki starts new year traditions

Tihei: Matariki starts new year traditions

Te Rangi Huata has some suggestions to help you create new traditions around Matariki.

Matariki is a time of celebration and reflection for many Māori communities in New Zealand.

Matariki is spiritual, as a time to remember those who passed, but also a cultural and social celebration. Ngāti Kahungunu is one of the largest iwi in New Zealand and has its own unique traditions around Matariki.

One new tradition that Ngāti Kahungunu people have embraced is coming home for Matariki. This is a great opportunity for families to reconnect and celebrate together and many whanau living outside the region have been doing this for many years, some since 2000 when Kahungunu mounted the first public Matariki event in Hastings’ CBD.

Another new tradition is attending a Whangai i te Hautapu Hauahi pre-dawn karakia ceremony at your marae or home on Friday, July 14, the public holiday.


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These ceremonies are in three parts – to remember those who passed since the last Matariki, to symbolically feed the stars in the form of steam rising from cooked food, planning for one’s future by observing the rising of Matariki and celebrating.

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi will host a Hautapu Hauahi pre-dawn ceremony at 5.45am on Thursday, July 13, on Napier’s beach next to the National Aquarium.

Another new tradition is attending public Matariki events mounted in the region.

Unveiling headstones of loved ones on the Saturday of the long weekend is another new tradition that families could consider. This is a great way to ensure most family members can attend, as everyone is home at this time. The normal tradition is for the unveiling to take place a year after burial or when the family is ready to do this ceremony.

For young families, having your child’s baptism on Sunday could be another new tradition to consider. There could be a dozen or more children in the wider whānau ready for baptism at this time, so it could be another joyous occasion to bring whānau home.

Of course, another obvious new tradition is to share a meal together either of traditional Māori kai or a feast of family favourites.

I hope these suggestions help you create new traditions around Matariki that are meaningful and enjoyable for your family, hapū and our iwi. “Manawatia a Matariki” Welcome the new year.

Te Rangi Huata is Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated Event Manager.

  • June 25, 2023