Matariki celebrations in Wellington this year will not have fireworks - but that doesn’t mean there wont be a jam-packed weekend of celebration.
The decision to not have fireworks display this year was influenced by public sentiment and national guidance, said Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau.
The rising of Puanga (also known as the star Rigel in Orion) and the Matariki star cluster (Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters) mark the start of the Māori New Year.
The decision is being celebrated by Wellington City Councilor Tamatha Paul told NZME that Matariki is a chance to reflect on the year that has passed, and honour those who have died while looking to the constellation of stars.
“It’s about honoring those who have died in the last year and it’s about setting goals and intentions for the New Year. So that’s something that you do when you’re pondering at the stars and fireworks is something that stops you from even being able to see the stars.”
Paul also said she is glad there won’t be fireworks as they are disruptive to wildlife, and the debris pollutes the harbour.
She also said it can impact people’s mental health.
“Quite a lot of people that struggle with PTSD don’t enjoy the boom of the fireworks and many anxious animals are impacted by the fireworks.
“There are lots of benefits to not having them at, but I think it’s important to note that there are many other events throughout the year that still have fireworks including January 1st New Year celebration, Diwali and other events.”
Although there won’t be fireworks there is a free, family friendly event planned for the weekend along Wellington’s Waterfront which will include kai, immersive walk-through projections, fire and performances throughout the space.
Matariki Ahi Kā will kick off Thursday 13 July and last through until Sunday July 16 and in the lead-up towards the big event people can enjoy Mana Moana Pōneke – a series of indigenous short films about our ocean, projected on water, in Whairepo Lagoon.
Even though Matariki won’t have fireworks, Whanau says she is exploring alternatives for another display.
“An option I asked Council officers to investigate is whether we could hold a fireworks display after one of the FIFA Women’s World Cup matches in Wellington – that would be a wonderful way to show our support for women’s sport.”
SPCA inspectorate team leader Ben Lakomy said although he is glad to hear there are no fireworks for Matariki it would be better to ban private fireworks completely.
“Obviously the fewer fireworks for our pets out there and our farm animals, the better but I understand that it it has been cancelled for reasons other than animal welfare, so it looks like we could have another event at some point. It’s kind of just postponing, the trauma that, fireworks cause to animals across New Zealand each and every year.”
“SPCA would like to see a complete ban on the private sale and use of fireworks.”