Wintec Matariki festival casts a light on the future

The seven pou whakarae (left) representing  Matariki at Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa marae

The seven pou whakarae (left) represent the Matariki star cluster (Pleiades) at Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa marae on the Wintec Hamilton City campus.

Horahia Matariki celebrates the Māori new year at Wintec, drawing from the past to celebrate a brighter future with a stellar line-up of events from 3-31 July 2020.

The annual festival at Wintec is named after the seven pou whakarae (pillars) representing the  star cluster that line the entrance to Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa marae on the Wintec Hamilton City campus.

Wintec Executive Director - Māori, Hera White says the theme, “Manaaki Tangata – Caring for our Future” celebrates resilience through the challenges faced, in a year that has already tested people in many ways.

“Traditionally, Matariki is a time for reflection of loss, celebrating new life and planning for the year ahead, and Matariki is also the perfect time to wānanga - research, design, collaborate and retell the stories that make us who we are,” she says.

“Our resilience as a community has recently been tested and Matariki has arrived in time to shed some light, re-purpose and reveal opportunities to collaborate, congregate and celebrate the way forward.”

The festival will launch with Te Whakarewatanga at 7am on Friday 3 July at the site of Tōia Mai, the interactive Matariki sculpture created at Wintec on the Ferrybank Reserve alongside the Waikato River.  Te Whakarewatanga will celebrate Matariki with karakia (blessing), music, waiata (songs) and stories. This event will also be live-streamed on the Wintec Māori and Pasifika Facebook page

The Horahia Matariki series of events for students, staff and the wider community includes the launch of a new digital resource, Te Pātaka, a history tour, an online talent quest, a night shelter dinner and a series of welcome pōwhiri for new students, staff and whānau to launch Semester 2 at Wintec.

 “We are living in ever-changing times, and Matariki is a time to draw from the past, celebrate our culture and the learnings we have. Horahia Matariki is our Wintec festival and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” says White.

“Celebrating Matariki at Wintec increases the visibility and understanding of Māori and Pasifika culture across our diverse student, staff and community audience.”

A traditional fire ceremony at Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa marae at Wintec on Friday 31 July will be the closing event for Horahia Matariki 2020. Pō Maumahara will be a night of reflection and remembrance to set a focus for the year ahead.

To enquire about Horahia Matariki 2020, email

About Matariki

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter and for Māori, heralds the start of the new year. Traditionally, it was a time for reflection of loss, celebrating new life and planning.

Matariki rises at the end of the harvest season. In the past, when the storehouses or pātaka were filled with produce, and the land left to rest, this was a time to celebrate and unify whānau (family). As the nights and days grew colder, it was a time to wānanga (plan and discuss), to repair, to weave, carve, sing and retell historical stories. Events today are often inspired by these activities.

Many cultures acknowledge Matariki but call it by other names. For example, the Ancient Greek Pleiades, Japanese Subaru, and for Hawaiians, Makali’i. Like Māori, these cultures share a spiritual relationship with the universe.

Iwi across Aotearoa celebrate Matariki at different times according to when its return is observed from their rohe (area). Because Māori follow the Māori lunar calendar, the dates for Matariki change every year. In 2020, the Matariki cluster will set on 15 May and return from 13-20 July. Nationally, the Matariki period is 13 -20 July. 

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