Tainui celebrate start of Matariki festivities

By Heta Gardiner

Today marked the beginning of the Matariki festivities in Auckland. 

In the early hours of the morning, dignitaries, such as Kingi Tuheitia and Mayor Phil Goff among others, were present at an event near Auckland's domain to celebrate the beginning of the Matariki festivities. Hundreds turned out, lead by a Tainui delegation.

Goff believes it is a positive step forward to be celebrating Matariki in Auckland.

"I think it's great that we now again celebrate Matariki, it's part of Māori culture and tradition. It's been lost for many years, but now we're bringing it back."

But whether Matariki should become a public holiday in New Zealand had a divided response.

"Absolutely, it should be a public holiday, as this is our land and we should get that acknowledgement," says Rangi McLean.

But Tainui leader Rahui Papa was less convinced.

"I want it to be just for us, eventually that (Matariki becoming a public holiday) will become a reality, but look at today's event, it was done in a Māori way. But many Pākehā also attended, that is the true meaning of Matariki in my opinion, not whether or not it gets the nod from government to become a public holiday."

Goff wants Matariki to be a public holiday, in due course.

"In June, we celebrate Queen's Birthday which is a part of a legacy, but maybe something that is much less relevant to us today. I would like to see that Queen's Birthday holiday at some point in the future move to becoming the day when we mark Matariki."