By Stuff reporter Erin Gourley
There will be no fireworks during Matariki celebrations in Wellington, to align with public sentiment and national guidance about the celebrations.
City councillor Tamatha Paul said fireworks “just don’t fit nicely” with Matariki and it was good to see them dropped.
“It’s a reflective time and that exists in tension with fireworks – they’re loud, destructive, they cause anxiety for people and wildlife and they cause pollution.”
Matariki is the Māori New Year and marks the time when the constellation also known as the Pleiades or Seven Sisters rises in the sky. It coincides with the rising of Puanga, or Rigel from the Orion constellation, which is acknowledged by mana whenua Te Atiawa.
Wellington City Council moved its major fireworks display from Guy Fawkes to Matariki in 2017, to align with the midwinter celebrations.
When advising on the formation of the public holiday last year, mātauranga Māori groups told the government the fireworks did not align with the mana taiao (environmental awareness) of the celebration.
Celebrating whanaungatanga (kinship)
The celebrations were about the constellation rising in the sky, and fireworks distracted from the stars, Paul said.
Although celebrations won’t include fireworks, there will be performances and projections along the waterfront to celebrate the mid-winter Māori new year.
Mayor Tory Whanau invited everyone to celebrate the rising of Matariki and Puanga as a “time to reflect on our loved ones who have passed, and to prepare for the New Year, as we enter the colder months”.
It was also a time “to get together, to restore faith and hope for the future, to celebrate whanaungatanga (kinship), to be with others, to share stories and kai, and plan to work towards a more sustainable future”.
Free whānau-friendly events along the waterfront will be run by the council from July 13 to July 16. There will be food on offer and an immersive walk-through with large projections, fire and performances.
Mana Moana Pōneke, a series of indigenous short films about the ocean, will be projected on the water of Whairepo Lagoon.
At 8pm each night there will be ceremonies to honour those who have died, where people can write down their wishes and thoughts which will be burnt in a fire brazier and sent to the stars.
There are still fireworks organised by the council on New Year's Eve and Diwali fireworks are organised with support from the council.
Whanau said the council was investigating whether the Fifa Women’s World Cup could be another occasion for fireworks, saying it would be “a wonderful way to show our support for women’s sport”.