Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei brings in the New Year with a powerful ceremony

By Marena Mane

Early this morning Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei welcomed the public in Tāmaki Makaurau to join them for a special ceremony on top of Takaparawhau. 

Te Umu Kohukohu Whetū, the traditional ceremony to feed the Matariki cluster, began at dawn.

The traditional practice that died out in the 1900s was reignited.

“The umu itself or the hāngi is the kai, the steam rises and feeds Matariki … to ensure a prosperous New Year. Also, within the ceremony, there is a part where we celebrate and remember our loved ones,” Te Kura Taiaho Kapea of Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Hine said.

“There’s the part to Hiwa-i-te-rangi where you are able to send out your dreams and aspirations for the New Year,” he said.

A powerful line of mana wāhine welcomed the Māori New Year.

Baylee Watene of Ngāti Whātua and also one of the callers of that morning says, “It was beautiful standing with our pakeke (elders), standing with our kuia, sending our whakaaro (thoughts) to the rangi (sky) as Tamanui te ra (the sun) was coming up, perfect timing.” 

“We had our babies behind us, our tāne right next to us and what felt like the whole motu whānui (the wider county) as well, supporting us, keeping us warm, and keeping our ‘hautapu’ fires blowing,” she says.