Matariki part of the culture

The digging of the hāngi on Friday morning / Photos by Troy Lennox, Jack Lennox and Molly Norvill

Matariki will not become an official national public holiday until June 24 next year, but for Cambridge High School, attempts to entrench the event in the school’s future culture have already begun.

Friday 10 July the school hosted an inaugural community celebration of the holiday, as the culmination of Te Wiki O Te Ao Māori—an annual week-long celebration of Māori culture.

Te Wiki O Te Ao Māori saw the school’s inter-house Kī-o-rahi competition on Thursday, as well as student-led games of Ariki and a Māori quiz earlier in the week.

“This is the first year we have put this on,” said Maanvi Naicker, a year 13 student and member of Te Hunga Tai Kākā on the Matariki evening celebration.

But it won’t be the last. “A lot of people want this to be something that does continue on,” Naicker said.

For the students, Matariki becoming a more prominent part of school culture is both exciting and long overdue.

“It’s the first ever Tikanga Māori holiday!” exclaimed Mya Tohia, a year 12 student. “This is something we’ve wanted for so long.”

Emma Birch, who, along with Naicker, was the organising force behind the celebration, said “being bicultural is still something [Cambridge is] growing to embrace—so this is part of the process.”

For Naicker, Matariki is about “bringing people together, and taking that time to be in the moment.”

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