Waikato kura tells the Matariki story interpreting the Kīngitanga version

By Torere Wilson

Preparing for the Matariki story - Kīngitanga style: Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga. Photo / Supplied

By Torerenui a Rua Wilson Te Rito Journalism Cadet

A new play portrays the many different ways Matariki is seen but this version is viewed through the eyes of the Kīngitanga and told by Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga, a kura kaupapa school in the Huntly Waikato region.

Although the seven stars are the same, the sun and seasons differ. The Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga story of The Pathfinder follows the journey of Matariki and Tamanuitera as he flows through the galaxy to the different seasons.

He turns to Hine Takurua (Winter maid) when it is winter, then to Hine Raumati (Summer maid) when it is summer. In between these two is Te Raro, who is a portal protecting Tamanui on his travels.

Director and producer Ora Kihi said this was their interpretation of Matariki, as many iwi have their own stories of the Māori New Year.

'We don't say people are wrong but this is our story and how we tell it."

Although there are many Matariki stories, The Pathfinder revolves around Te Paki o Matariki, the coat of arms of the Māori King movement.

In the image, the central double helix represents the creation of the world. On the left is the figure of Aitua, who looks after all those that have passed. On the right, Atua represents the good, and together they represent the balance of life.

There are seven stars above, rather than the nine often referred to in some references to Matariki. The play tells the tale of all these key figures and how they feature in the Kīngitanga.

The main characters are played by Te Ahikaaroa Maxwell as Matariki, Potiki Levi as Tamanui te Ra, and Te Kaahuia Kihi as Atutahi.

Maxwell says: "I am very excited about this production. I come from Te Tairāwhiti [Gisborne), so it's incredible to learn new stories about our whetū.

"As kura kaupapa or kura Māori kids, we find ourselves having to engage in all the kaupapa our kura has. Whether it is sports, kapa haka, or productions like this, it's always the same people because there are only so many of us who can."

This production has a lot of aroha and work behind the scenes.

The teachers, students and parents of Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga are helping, from the writing to setting up the stage, sounds and lights right through to the costumes.

The show is on stage today (June 21) and tomorrow at the Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga 26 McDiarmid Crescent, Huntly.

Public Interest Journalism, funded through NZ On Air