The road to Matariki at CHS

The digging of the Hangi on Friday morning, July 9.
Photos by: Troy Lennox, Jack Lennox and Molly Norvill

Matariki won’t become an official national public holiday until June 24 next year. But for CHS, attempts to entrench the event in the school’s future culture have already begun.

On July 9, the school hosted an inaugural community celebration of the holiday, as the culmination of Te Wiki O Te Ao Maori—a week-long celebration of Maori culture.

Te Wiki O Te Ao Maori saw the school’s annual inter-house Ki O Rahi competition on Thursday, as well as student-led games of Ariki.

“This is the first year we have put this on,” said Maanvi Nicker, a year 13 student and member of Te Hunga Taikaka.

“A lot of people want this to be something that does continue on.”

For the students, Matariki become 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 organizing force behind the celebration, said “being bicultural is still something [Cambridge is] growing to embrace—so this is part of the process.”

As of Monday July 5, around 40 people had pre-ordered a spot in the Hangi, with performances from the Kapa Haka group and the Arts and Culture committee following the raising of the Hangi and karakia at 5:45pm.

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

Matariki is a cluster of stars (Pleiades) that rises in mid-winter, marking the start of the Māori New Year.

The first date of the inaugural public holiday will be Friday June 24 2021.