The 2014 month of Matariki comes to an end next week on the 28th July. Here at Mairtown we have continued our Matariki celebrations into term three. Yesterday we shared in our annual Harvest Day.
Traditionally, ‘Harvest Days’ are a celebration of food grown on the land; they remind us of all the good things that we receive from Nature and provide an opportunity to share this abundance with others.
Harvest Days are a global tradition and in these modern times I believe they provide a wonderful opportunity to celebrate community and build sustainability.
For Māori, Matariki has always been connected to planting and harvest. “The coming season’s crops were planted according to the portents read in the Matariki star cluster. If the stars were clear and bright, it was a sign that a favourable and productive season lay ahead, and planting would begin in September. If the stars appeared hazy and closely bunched together, a cold winter was in store and planting was put off until October.” (Te Ara)
“Matariki happened at the end of harvesting, when food stores were plentiful. The variety of food which had been gathered and preserved ensured an abundant supply for feasting.” (Te Ara)
Ngā kai a Matariki, nāna i ao ake ki runga.
The foods of Matariki, by her scooped up.
The focus of our Harvest Day at kindergarten is about sharing our abundance, random acts of kindness and nurturing the body and soul of our community. Our parents and whānau were invited to bring an item to share from their garden or pantry, along with a provocation or thought for the receiver.
On Tuesday morning the gifts were placed on an exchange table inside, and what an abundance of beautiful Northland offerings were received including, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, citrus, herbs, broccoli, pickles, jams and chutney, cakes, bread and cookies, avocado, macadamia nuts, pumpkin and kumera.
Along with the food came messages and thoughts to nurture the soul:
'A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy' - Albert Einstein
''Happiness is like jam, you can't spread even a little without getting some on yourself' - Mi's family
'Share, care hug like a bear' - Tyler's family
'Keep your face in the sunshine and you can never see the shadow' - Helen Keller
As we farewelled the tamariki for the day they were invited to choose something from the harvest table to take home. The opportunity to take something away had created lots of excitement and anticipation throughout the day; sometimes choices are so tricky!
Lastly I am going to share a little exchange that took place with two of our boys; it beautifully captures the essence of what this day of gifting is all about:
Roman approached Tiaki as he was leaving and opens up his paper bag to show his e hoa (friend) what he had chosen:
Tiaki “Aw what’s that, orange and a big pumpkin and…hey you got some of my parsley!”
Tiaki “Are you gonna cook that?”
Roman “Nah, my mum is”
Tiaki (looking joyful and laughing) “Aw that’s good!”
“The most important thing to do with children, is to celebrate life”
Helen Fields. MAUMS