The celebration of New Zealand’s first Matariki national holiday in Dunedin was a hugely successful and overwhelmingly positive event that drew an estimated 20,000 people to the city’s waterfront, Dunedin City Council said today.
The Council says plans are now being drawn up to build on the success of the event, as the city looks to cement a regular and iconic Matariki event on the city’s calendar.
“It is the first time we have worked with mana whenua to deliver an event of this scale for Dunedin, and we are just blown away by the enormous support and huge crowds that attended,” said Manahautū (General Manager, Māori, Partnerships & Policy), Jeanette Wikaira.
“We estimate at least 20,000 people attended Mana Moana over three nights, and staff working on the ground received overwhelmingly positive comments from members of the public. Some people were moved to tears and others came back night after night.”
The event also delivered an economic boost for the city, employing a large number of locals ranging from food vendors to technical and production crew, who all contributed to the event’s success.
“Overall, we’re delighted with the reception this event has received. The fact that more people turned up for our opening night than for the entire week Mana Moana was on Wellington’s waterfront is a huge vote of confidence from the Dunedin public,” Ms Wikaira says.
She said it was also important to deliver a strong Māori event for the entire community, to celebrate the first Matariki national holiday.
The Mana Moana stories were developed by nationally and internationally well-known Māori and Pasifika artists, and have a special connection for mana whenua, said Ms Wikaira.
A local story developed for the show was produced by Kai Tahu artist and Mana Moana co-curator Rachael Rakena, who worked with local whānau to develop a new Ōtepoti piece for the show, retelling the story of two Kāi Tahu women from Ōtākou, Paparu and Nikuru who married the Ōtākou Whaling station owner Edward Weller in the 1830s.
The mana whenua descendants of these marriages performed in the Mana Moana local production piece, and the musical backdrop was to the tune of the Wellerman sea shanty, revamped by local kapa haka group He Waka Kotuia.
“We couldn’t be prouder to see this show take shape on our waterfront, and to see it received so wholeheartedly by our community. We can’t wait for next year,” Ms Wikaira said.