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Source: New Zealand Government

Matariki tohu mate, rātou ki a rātou

Matariki tohu ora, tātou ki a tātou

Tīhei Matariki

Matariki – remembering those who have passed

Matariki – celebrating the present and future

Salutations to Matariki

I want to begin by thanking everyone who is here today, and in particular the Matariki Advisory Group, led by Professor Rangi Matamua.

All of your work has been essential in ensuring we are here today and celebrating Matariki the way we are – under the gaze of te kāhui a Matariki.

Matariki has been embraced across our nation since the beginning of Aotearoa – and its celebration, and regeneration over the past decades has often been spearheaded by waka voyaging leaders and by mātauranga Māori and te reo Māori specialists. I pay tribute to all that advocacy and work.

I also want to thank Sir Pou Temara for his words.

This is indeed a moment in time. A waypoint on a long and important journey.

I am not the one who on this day is best placed to give you the history of Matariki. But I can tell you how it makes me feel.

The moment in Rotorua in September 2020 when we first announced our intention to embark on properly formalising this day as a public holiday, and watching the reaction of the young people present there to hear the news.

Seeing a broadcaster just this week, integrate into their programming, messages about what Matariki means and what makes it unique.

Reading Miriama Kamo’s account of losing her father, and the role Rangi Matamua played in helping to create “a framework to express her grief and channel it towards a date and time when so many would be in concert with her”. As she said of Matariki “I won’t be alone”

And yesterday, visiting Wainuiomata Intermediate to see the tamariki stage a performance on the many stories of Matariki.

All of these moments have given me a deep sense of gratitude, at the chance to witness what will be a historic milestone and one that is being so keenly embraced.

Matariki provides us with a chance to reflect, to think of those we have lost, and to prepare and share a sense of hope and optimism for the future.

I can’t think of a better moment in time for us to take up what Matariki has to offer us, as individuals, but also as a nation.

But as we recognise a time in our calendar that is so unique to Maori, some may ask whether this truly can be a day that our nation can unite behind. I would argue, wholeheartedly and absolutely, yes

This is now an official holiday that does not divide us by Maori ancestry or other, rather, it unites us under the stars of Aotearoa.

It demonstrates the generosity of the indigenous people of New Zealand, to share knowledge, culture and history.

And it holds within it enough space for each of us to build our own meaning, and traditions.

In fact, it feels incredibly symbolic to me, that stars that have been so integral in navigation by our ancestors, form now a waypoint on our journey as a nation.

A journey that does not begin or end here – but offers us the opportunity to learn and to grow.

Many of us did not grow up with, or learn the traditions of Matariki. But we now have that chance. A chance to see our own children learn more about this period, a chance to learn from them, and a chance create our own Matariki moments.

That is the power of Matariki.  And I don’t underestimate it.

Professor Rangi Matamua when talking about today said “I think we have reached the point where we can say we have made a great and meaningful step towards understanding our national identity”

Professor, you are not alone in this hope and belief. And I absolutely believe that this will be manifest in many different ways in the years to come. Some small, and some large.

This month I received a letter from a five year old named Amy and her mother, in the correspondence the mother wrote:

“I wanted to share my gratitude we are able to celebrate Matariki together, with our new holiday. My daughter Amy composed a hand drawn card for her cousin Claudie. This year, for the first time, Claudie and her Mama are coming to spend Matariki with us.

Amy asked me to write these words to her cousin

“Claudie you may not be my sister but I am going to see you soon at Matariki. We have no Maori ancestry but love our nation’s cultural heritage. We are so happy Matariki is being acknowledged appropriately as a special time for our families, and that a national holiday allows us to come together.”

And so, I share this same simple aspiration.

That this moment in time, this waypoint in our journey, offers us the chance to come together as families, but also as a nation. Under the stars of a bright, optimistic, and hopeful Matariki.

A space where there is room for all of us.

Mānawatia a Matariki!

MIL OSI