A Matariki celebration held for people with disabilities helped to bring people out of their shells and come together in companionship.

It was held at the Whakarewarewa Rugby Clubrooms on Tuesday, with activities including singing, dancing, kapa haka and a hangi lunch.

Vanessa Kite, one of the celebration organisers, says Geneva Healthcare groups from Rotorua, Tauranga and Hamilton attended, as well as IDEA Services from Rotorua, Taupo and Whakatane.

There were about 120 people altogether.


"It just flowed so well and everyone's had such a great time."

There was a performance from I.H.C Kapa Haka group and a prize for the best dressed. Some people dressed up glittery to represent the Matariki stars, Vanessa says.

She says Matariki is important to celebrate because it is a celebration of people and of all things Maori.

It has been a chance to get all the different sectors together, which does not happen very often, she says.

Geneva Healthcare chief executive Josephine Wallis says they have the Matariki celebration every year and have been doing it for at least five years.

She says Geneva Healthcare and its Geneva Aura programme has the concept of providing support to people through a holistic approach.

Matariki ties nicely with this because of the social gathering and coming together of their clients and staff, Josephine says.

"Everybody's whanau and it's a concept of delivering bicultural support."

She says the day went well and had the biggest turnout.

The company funded everything for the day, and it was about making a difference to their clients and their enjoyment of life, she says.

Margaret Brown says the celebration helps bring people with disabilities out of their shell.

"My brother's here and he's getting exposed to quite a lot of different activities."

She says Matariki is a significant time for Maori and there were different races there celebrating together and enjoying themselves.

"The best thing for me is the interaction they are having, and all getting together. It's like one big family.

"The food is amazing and the team have put on a fantastic event. They are doing it with a lot of love."

Kathy Hillman says a highlight of the celebration was enjoying the company of people from other areas and getting to meet people from other sites.

"Many have been getting up out of their chairs. The enjoyment that comes out of it is amazing."