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Waikato Matariki Festival’s tenth birthday sparks major collaboration

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The annual Matariki Ki Waikato festival turns ten this year generating major collaboration among more than twenty groups and organisations.

The Matariki festival runs through June and July to celebrate the Māori New Year, heralded by the rising star-cluster known as Matariki.

Marleina Ruka, Chairperson of Te Ohu Whakaita Trust is thrilled with the range of outstanding of events planned for Matariki Ki Waikato 2019.Marleina Ruka, Chairperson of Te Ohu Whakaita Trust which drives the festival, expects a substantial increase in attendees.

"The festival boasts more than 30 events including ceremonial karakia and reflection, regional toi and art exhibitions, environmental awareness projects, and Māori performing arts. There is something for everyone to enjoy," says Ruka.

The opening of the six-week long festival aligns with Kingi KorokÄ«’s birth on 16 June.

According to Ruka, "Launching our festival with Kingi KorokÄ«’s birthday is significant to Matariki Ki Waikato because of our ties with the Kingitanga."

In 1906, the stern of the Tainui Waka (a constellation commonly referred to as Orion or the Pot) was seen shining directly above Waahi Pā the moment of Kingi KorokÄ«’s birth. The bright star signaled a bright future of the king and his people.

"This sacred date marks a time when we give thanks for the past and karakia for the health of the future. It is also a time when we remember those who have passed that year," she says.

Ruka believes the festival is a catalyst for cultures and communities to engage and take part in kaupapa Māori.

This year Matariki Ki Waikato will debut a number of new events including a Kaumatua (over 70s) Ball, a Matariki Market Day and the Te Ruru Light Festival in Hamilton CBD. There is theatre, and a fine dining programme along with special short film screenings included in the event calendar.

The regional effort has local events running from as far north as Rangiriri down to Waitomo.

"Our community partners have put a lot of energy and time into making the festival an incredible and exciting space for whānau (families) to discover what Matariki means to them."

Fullevent details from 14 June - 27 July can be found at

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