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By Stephen Heard
June 02, 2020
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Matariki Festival 2020

This year's re-sized festival will include online and smaller community events across Tāmaki Makaurau.
By Stephen Heard
June 02, 2020
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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. After the challenges of the past few months, the Matariki refresh button arrives at a fitting time for the nation.

To mark the occasion, every year Auckland Council presents Matariki Festival — a three-week program of events. This year will see a re-sized festival in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Matariki Festival 2020 begins on 20 June with the winter solstice and ends on 15 July as the Matariki star cluster rises above the horizon in the pre-dawn sky.

While the lineup is typically brimming with openair film screenings, street festivals, thought-provoking theatre and Māori art workshops, this year's festival will include smaller community events across Tāmaki Makaurau and new ways for people to join in the festival online.

Host iwi Waikato-Tainui will lead this year's karakia to open the festival for 2020. The blessing to commemorate those who have passed, acknowledge those who remain and plan for the approaching seasons will be live-streamed via the Matariki Festival Facebook page.

Elsewhere, Aucklanders can learn how to create a pounamu pendant, take a free guided walk through a historic volcanic reserve, shop Māori arts and crafts at a cash-and-carry market, fly a kite to symbolically connect the land and sky, and enjoy online screenings of Māori short films.

Councillor Alf Filipaina, Chair of the Parks, Arts, Community and Events committee says, "Even though our festival is smaller this year, its sense of kotahitanga (coming together) is just as strong. Together we can enjoy a festival that re-energises the city and deepens our appreciation of tikanga Māori," he says.

Image: Auckland Council.

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