The nation has awoken today to its first distinctly New Zealand public holiday, Te Rā Aro ki a Matariki, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joining the nation’s celebrations at a traditional Hautapu ceremony early this morning.
“This is a special day not only for Aotearoa but globally as we celebrate our first authentically Māori public holiday, which has been met with overwhelming support,” Ms Ardern said.
“Today we take another meaningful step forward in understanding what makes us unique as a country, and what holds us together as a nation.
“While many will already have Matariki traditions, I know others will be creating their own for the first time. That extends to Kiwis living abroad as over 20 New Zealand embassies host Matariki celebrations around the globe, giving the world a taste of our national identity.
“I thank all those iwi, hapū, whānau and mātauranga holders for giving their time, support and knowledge to ensure Matariki is shared, acknowledged and better understood – to allow us all to celebrate as a nation together,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Minister for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti, Kelvin Davis said Matariki was a proud illustration of mātauranga Māori or Māori knowledge that has been passed down generationally.
“Traditionally Matariki was a time where Māori would give thanks for all the blessings of the past year and reconnect with one another,” Mr Davis said.
“This is what we want for our nation – strengthening whānau bonds and community relationships and partnerships.
“From today onwards we can annually embed into our calendars a national holiday that is unique to Aotearoa and is inclusive of all of our people,” Kelvin Davis said.
Associate Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage, Kiritapu Allan said Matariki signalled the start of the Māori new year and it was only right that we celebrate and learn more about Matariki now and into the future.
“This is just the beginning and I know there is an appetite for us to do things differently and we must be up for the challenge in order to move forward in what is an exciting time for Aotearoa,” she said.
“Especially for our children, who will not have to think twice about the significance or the meaning of Matariki as it will be entrenched into the hearts and minds of generations to come.”
Te Papa Tongarewa hosted the Hautapu Ceremony and the Official Address this morning delivered by Prime Minister Ardern and Te Matapūnenga leader, Professor Sir Pou Temara marked the importance of celebrating Matariki together.