Indigenous | Matariki

Ngāi Tahu reflects on a successful Matariki

Manuhaea Mamaru-O'Regan delivering karakia at the national hautapu in Wānaka. Photo: Richie Mills

This article was first published by RNZ

Members of Ngāi Tahu are reflecting on the revival of karakia and te reo - which was on full display at the national Matariki commemorations.

The third national Matariki hautapu ceremony was held at Treble Cone last Friday among the peaks of Kā Tiritiri o te Moana the Southern Alps near Wānaka.

Paulette Tamati-Eliffe is the manager of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu - she also was one of the kaikarakia leading the ceremonies on behalf of her iwi.

It was an absolute honour and privilege to host the ceremony, but a responsibility too, she said.

“This was a really important, traditional place for us... Wānaka was a place where we had traditional whare wānaka, our ancestors they named these places, they’ve been coming to these places for generations. So it’s important to us to keep returning, to keep connecting to our roto moana, to our lakes, to these mauka, to these places.”

Kaikarakia from left Edward Ellison, Kiringaua Cassidy, Paulette Tamati-Elliffe and Kare Tipa. Photo: Richie Mills

Rangatahi leading the karakia

Two of the Ngāi Tahu rangatahi who took part in the hautapu ceremony were Manuhaea Mamaru-O’Regan and Tumai Cassidy.

Mamaru-O’Regan said it was “awesome” to be part of the experience and to show off te ao Māori.

“Embracing our culture, our Kai Tahutaka as well which is a huge part of our lives. I’m just so happy that we were able to share that with Aotearoa and show off te Ao Māori.”

Cassidy told RNZ’s Matariki programme it was important to “bring those practices back to life for us” after they hadn’t been practiced for a generations.

“[We were] quite fortunate to have professor Rangi Mātāmua and share some of that kōrero around the ceremony itself and for us to look at some of our own kōrero and weave those into the ceremony,” he said.

It was awesome to have rangatahi alongside kaumātua Edward Ellison leading the iwi into the new year, he said.

Kaikarakia from left Edward Ellison, Kiringaua Cassidy, Paulette Tamati-Elliffe and Kare Tipa. Photo: Richie Mills

Ngāi Tahu pride

Māori language advocate Dr Hana O’Regan said she had an overwhelming sense of pride during the hautapu ceremony - especially with her daughter Manuhaea being part of the ceremony.

Hearing the iwi’s dialect in the karakia was particularly important, she said.

“We need hope, and we need to be seeing in new dawns, and new years, and what an incredible way to do it.”

Kaumātua Edward Ellison said they achieved what they set out to do to bring in the new year.

He was very proud of the young people involved and it was amazing what had transpired with the revitalisation of te reo Māori, he said.

“The beauty of what we’re seeing is this mushrooming of the young generation, having come from the kapa haka competitions in Whakatū it’s amazing to see what’s emerging and growing through kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa, kapa haka. The use of te reo it’s really powerful.”