Matariki is a special date in the New Zealand calendar. In Whangarei this last weekend there was a wonderful festival to celebrate this special time. At Mairtown we began our Matariki celebrations a few weeks ago with a whānau breakfast, followed a couple of weeks later with our harvest day and on Friday of last week our fabulous evening hāngī.
During Matariki, we celebrate our unique place in the world. We give respect to the whenua on which we live, and admiration to our mother earth, Papatūānuku.
Throughout Matariki, we learn about those who came before us. Our history, our family, our bones.
Matariki signals growth. It's a time of change. It's a time to prepare, and a time of action. During Matariki, we acknowledge what we have and what we have to give.
Matariki celebrates the diversity of life. It's a celebration of culture, language, spirit and people.
Matariki is our Aotearoa Pacific New Year.
(Māori Language Commission)
The preparation for the hāngī began with lots of our families kindly donating their time and hard work to help make sure we were ready for the evening. It is lovely welcoming so many parents and family friends into Kindergarten, watching relationships grow between children and adults and noticing how many of the adults within our community share their skills and stories with our attending children – something so special and a really wonderful experience for all involved – something which I truly believes demonstrates the whanaungatanga and whakawhanaungatanga which is evident everyday at Mairtown.
Relationships are a source of learning, empowerment, and identity for all of us…reflected in the concept of whanaungatanga. Whanaungatanga can be described as a value, which reinforces the commitment whānau members have to each other. This commitment is expressed through a process of caring, sharing, respecting, helping, assisting, relieving, reciprocating, balancing, nurturing, and guardianship. Whakawhanaungatanga is about building a collaborative learning community and establishing an environment of trust and reciprocity (Hirini, 1997 & ECE Educate [MoE]).
Our hāngī and Matariki celebration is a really great reminder for me as a teacher just how special our kindergarten community is. It is a time when I witness community working together, sharing together, making connections and lots of caring happening for one other.
To try to put the evening into words is certainly difficult, so for those who could not attend, or for those that did and would like to re-visit the evening I have put together a little video of the whole day – please enjoy.
The waiata in the video is by Rahera Davies and here are the words translated:
E Ara e
Te Mātahi o te tau
(First month of the Māori year)
Te kohinga whetū
(The collection of stars)
I te uma o Ranginui
(In the chest of Ranginui)
E pīataata mai ana
Whakaataata i te rangi
(Reflecting in the sky)
E tohu ana
I te tau hou Māori e
(The Māori new year)
Waipuna a rangi
E Ara e
[A big thank you to Roimata Macfarlane, our Pou Whakarewa Tikanga Māori (Professional Practice Advisor Māori Northland Kindergarten Association) for finding and translating this music for me, and to our many helpers who prepared food on Friday, assisted in lifting the hāngī and tidying up – you are all wonderful].
I mentioned earlier how Matariki is a time for reflection, so on Monday this week I thought I would give the children an opportunity to reflect on the hāngī; to communicate their experiences and thoughts to one another. Here are a few of the special words and pictures they chose to share with me:
Sharlotte: 'Here I am walking down the street with my lantern, that was my best bit, see I am walking around here'.
Emma: 'My favourite part was when Christine did the ukulele - and not at night, but when we practiced at group time. I liked practising the song, in this picture I'm singing 'this little light of mine' and then I'm singing my own hāngī song and we're outside under the clouds'.
Grace: 'I loved my sister being at the hāngī and the moon was there, not the sun, My sister played with me at the hāngī. This is me and my sister Naomi'.
Nyla: 'I enjoyed eating. Here is my round bowl and my kebab sticks of fruit and this is my daddy and Tanner - he's upside down cause he does that. Nanna and Pa and my Nan came to the hāngī as I invited them'.
Peter: 'This is the lantern parade and we walked down and around the street. There are lots of people walking, 12 maybe'.
He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!
What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people! It is people! It is people!
Have a wonderful winter break. We will see everyone again in two weeks time,
Ka kite anō,