New street banners will fly in all towns and centres in Hawke's Bay during the month of June to mark the arrival of Matariki Pleiades in our skies. Matariki signals the start of the Māori New Year.
The first public holiday to celebrate Matariki will be on Friday, June 24. The Government has committed to ensuring mātauranga Maori is at the heart of celebrations of the Matariki public holiday, and it will be a time for:
• Remembrance – honouring those we have lost since the last rising of Matariki.
• Celebrating the present – gathering to give thanks for what we have.
• Looking to the future – looking forward to the promise of a new year.
"I'm so excited about the recognition of this occasion with a dedicated public holiday," said Te Rangi Huata, events and promotions manager for Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc.
"We started our first Matariki event on a cold dismal night in Hastings back in 2000 and surprisingly hundreds of people turned up.
"Since then it's turned into thousands attending Matariki events all over Hawke's Bay for the past 22 years and that's without the public holiday.
"I see many positive residuals from this decision. What makes the Matariki public holiday so significant is that for the first time in the history of New Zealand, that a seasonal indigenous Maori celebration has been recognised in this way.
"It's an amazing decision for our nation's politicians to approve this public holiday. Mind you, several attempts have been made in the past by the Maori Party and they have all fizzled due to lack of support. But as the cheesemaker says in those television ads, 'good things take time'.
"I'm no fortune teller or biblical soothsayer that reads the future, but I predict within a generation that Matariki will become New Zealand's third-biggest celebration after Easter and Christmas. I believe it will become bigger than New Year's Eve celebrations on 31 December.
"My reasoning is simple. The Maori calendar is lunar based and starts from the pre-dawn sighting of the Matariki stars, and these will stay in our skies over a period of 20 or so days until they disappear.
"Wherever we live in New Zealand, from the Cape to the Bluff, we see these Matariki stars from different viewing points and at different times so the celebrations occurs a bit like the Mexican wave rippling across New Zealand for three weeks. It's a great wintertime celebration. Happy Matariki."
Each iwi celebrates at a different time and in a different way, but the three main principles of Matariki remain the same - remembrance, giving thanks and planning for the future.
Planning is under way across Hawke's Bay. All events are free, most will take place in public parks and CBDs and are expected to attract thousands of visitors from June 10 to 25. The big reveal will be end of May.