The annual Matariki ki Waikato festival turns 10 this year generating major collaboration among more than 20 groups and organisations across the region.
The Matariki festival runs through June and July to celebrate the Māori New Year, heralded by the rising star-cluster known as Matariki.
Chairperson of Te Ohu Whakaita Trust, Marleina Ruka, 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 Marleina.
The opening of the six-week long festival aligns with Kingi Korokī's birth on June 16.
"Launching our festival with Kingi Korokī's birthday is significant to Matariki Ki Waikato because of our ties with the Kingitanga," says Marleina.
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 Korokī's birth. The bright star signalled 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.
Marleina 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 Kaumātua (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."
Full event details up to July 27 can be found at matarikiwaikato.nz
Waikato District Council is supporting a variety of events to mark Matariki, the Māori New Year, which will be celebrated between June 25 and July 3.
The largest of these is the seventh Matariki Festival hosted by Te Whare Toi o Ngāruawāhia — Twin Rivers Community Art Centre with the support of more than $6000 from the Creative Communities Scheme and from discretionary council funding.
This year the Ngāruawāhia festival is based around one of the stars in the Matariki constellation, Tupuānuku, which is associated with the soil and its bounty, and it includes the development of collaborative ceramic art work in all nine primary and pre-schools in Ngāruawāhia.
Ceramic artist David Kenny is working with the students to make ceramic tiles to create a pare (door lintel) as a permanent artwork for each school.
It will culminate in a day of celebration at the Twin Rivers Community Art Centre (2-7pm, on Saturday July 20) to open an exhibition of the artwork, including a large mural of the wings of the kōtare (kingfisher) created by local tamariki (children) on a related arts programme, with performances by local tamariki and artists, storytelling, a live performance by the Matariki Glow Show and a celebration with traditional kai and mahi toi.
A weekly art class for adults led by David Kenny at the Twin Rivers Community Art Centre will also contribute ceramic tiles for a permanent public art installation on the pergola in the public open square in Jesmond St, Ngāruawāhia.
"Our district is home to Waikato-Tainui as well as a wider Māori community and it's rich in Māori history, culture and tradition," WDC Iwi and Community Partnerships Manager Sam Toka says.
"As well as being informative and entertaining, we hope that our district Matariki activities and events will help to educate, inform and raise awareness of the practices and traditions of Matariki locally and regionally."
Waikato district events and activities are based across the overall festival's five key themes:
■ Arts (mahi toi).
■ Performance (whakangahau).
■ Food (ngā kai).
■ The environment (taio).
■ Youth (rangatahi).
Underlying each of the local events and activities are the festival's core values:
■ Guardianship (kaitiakitanga).
■ Celebrating communities (whakanui ngā hapori).
■ Sharing our world with others (whakātu te Ao Māori ki ētehi atu).
■ Collaboration (mahitahi).
Funding of nearly $4000 from the WDC's iwi liaison budget will also support:
• a Matariki Celebration day of family activities including art, craft, storytelling and food led by the Port Waikato Community Health and Support Services Trust and Art at the Port at Te Whare Oranga o Te Puaha, Ooraeroa Marae, on 29 June
• a musical performance by singer/songwriter Teia Kennedy, lit by clay Matariki lanterns, on 22 June at the Raglan Old School Arts Centre Gallery
• a one-day community event led by the Waimakariri Maaori Women's Welfare League focused on the art of harakeke (flax) and traditional protocols
• a two-week Matariki ki Waikato art exhibition at Tupu Te Toi Art Gallery in Rangiriri showcasing Maaori artists with links to Waikato-Tainui,from 25 June to 10 July.