Matariki celebrations heralded as ‘stunning’

In what Otakou Runanga upoko (head) Edward Ellison says was a "thrilling moment", New Zealand finally "crossed a threshold" during Matariki and was "at one" with itself.

The Maori leader was impressed with the many Matariki events during the new public holiday — particularly the dawn ceremony at Otago Museum on Friday, and the water show in the harbour basin.

He was among thousands who attended events over the three-day celebration.

Otakou Runanga upoko Edward Ellison speaking during the Matariki event at the Otago Museum on...
Otakou Runanga upoko Edward Ellison speaking during the Matariki event at the Otago Museum on Friday morning. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

"I thought, ‘by gee, I think we’ve turned a corner’.

"I saw the people at both events and I thought we had a great cross-section right across the community.

"I thought that was quite stunning."

While there were some complaints about poor sound quality at the Mana Moana show in the harbour basin, Mr Ellison was not perturbed.

He believed the paramount consideration was that the events provided the first occasion in which the country had really come together and the people were "as one".

"It was quite thrilling. It showed what we can do and how we might celebrate going forward.

"I just thought the whole process and the people’s interest in Matariki, what it traditionally meant and what it means for us going forward — I thought it was a great innovation.

"It’s the maturing of the way we see and understand these traditional concepts."

Mr Ellison said there was hope that this would be something that could happen every day of the year, rather than just over a long weekend.

"We’re becoming a bit more confident every year we go forward, to be honest. But this is quite a threshold."

Otago Museum spokesman Charlie Buchan said thousands flowed through the museum’s Matariki events.

"On Friday and Saturday, it was crazy. There were lines for most activities and we had to bring out more tables and chairs, just to fit people in."

He said the museum had received many messages saying how emotional the events were.

"It was a celebration for our indigenous culture and there were a lot of people who were visibly touched while the waiata and kapa haka performances were going on, because the music and harmonies were so moving.

"The museum was very united. We had all types of ages, all types of people. Everyone was into the conversation and into it together. It makes you want to get more involved."





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