In Māori culture the dawn of a new year aligns with the rise of the Pleiades constellation — otherwise known as Matariki. Appearing late May through June, the constellation was once used for navigation and timing the seasons. Now, it's recognised as a time to honour Aotearoa's Māori identity, to reflect, look forward and connect with friends and whānau.
To mark the occasion, every year Auckland Council presents Matariki Festival — a three-week program of events. This year's festivities will run from 30 June – 22 July across Tāmaki Makaurau with film screenings, street festivals, thought-provoking exhibitions, glow-in-the-dark puppet shows, and Māori art workshops.
The festival's opening weekend will begin with the Matariki Dawn Karakia on Saturday 30 June as host iwi Te Kawerau a Maki commemorate those who have passed, acknowledge those who remain and welcome in the Māori New Year with karanga, waiata and haka.
Manu Aute Kite Day will see kites of all shapes and sizes symbolically connect the realms of the heavens and earth; street festival Te Korakora will take over Federal Street with live performances Māori-inspired food and traditional music and dance.
The after-hours entertainment will continue on 21 July as a posse of illuminated bikes, wheelchairs and skateboards roll along the waterfront as part of aerial dance-theatre, InMotion Matariki. Presented by inclusive performing arts company, Touch Compass, the parade will make its way from Silo Park to The Cloud.