Auckland iwi Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei welcomes one and all to herald the Māori new year after being named this year's host for the Matariki Festival.
Tonight the mantle which iwi manaaki (the host iwi) holds for every Matariki Festival was passed on from 2020 hosts Waikato-Tainui to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei at the Matariki Festival Launch ceremony.
Matariki is a cluster of stars which usually rises in June and represents the beginning of a new year according to the Māori lunar calendar, known as maramataka.
It is celebrated differently throughout Aotearoa New Zealand among ngā iwi Māori, traditionally a time for reflection, ceremonies, and events that welcome a promise of the new year.
The opening ceremony was held this evening at Tāmaki Paenga Hira, Auckland War Memorial Museum.
This year's festival is set to be a great lead-in for the official recognition of Matariki in 2022 when it becomes a public holiday.
It will include a Vector Light show on Auckland's Harbour Bridge which will feature a new "iwi light show" of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and the story of the iwi's migration to Tāmaki Makaurau.
"We are proud to be the iwi manaaki for this year's Matariki Festival." Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei chair Marama Royal said.
Royal describes Matariki as a historical and cultural tradition "unique" to te iwi Māori, and Aotearoa.
It is a time for friends and whānau to come together to reflect on the past, the year that has been, enjoy good food, and celebrate new beginnings.
"The role of iwi manaaki during the festival is a wonderful opportunity for Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and we look forward to sharing with Tāmaki Makaurau our ahi kā narrative and the deep connection we have with our rohe."
The festival opens with the Matariki Dawn Karakia, from 6am-10am on June 19, taking place at Takaparawhau, otherwise known as Bastion Point.
The festival is an incredible opportunity for Aucklanders to come out and make the most of the event, basking in the beautiful region and learning more of the kaupapa around Matariki.
It is prepared to equip festivalgoers with knowledge on Matariki's significance before it becomes a national public holiday.
Previous iwi to have hosted the festival include: Waikato-Tainui, Te Kawerau a Maki, Ngāti Manuhiri and Ngāti Paoa.
The festival was set up more than 10 years ago, and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei is the fifth iwi manaaki. It will also be hosting the event in 2022.
Mana whenua has collaborated with Auckland Council to see its success.
"It's fantastic to have Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei as iwi manaaki for this year's Matariki Festival," Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said.
"The festival is an opportunity for Aucklanders to experience and enjoy the stories and traditions of Matariki through the eyes of the host iwi."
"I know this partnership will result in a great event and I encourage all Aucklanders to
take part in our city's premier winter festival."
Matariki Festival 2021 begins on June 19 and will run through until July 11.
What is Matariki?
Matariki is commonly known as a cluster of nine stars which all carry significant meaning to te ao Māori.
They go by the names of: