Aotearoa New Zealand Minister for Māori Development, Broadcasting and Media, Willie Jackson celebrates Matariki Day hosted by the Aotearoa Society. He is pictured with Jaewynn McKay and Derek Fox. MELINA ETCHES/23071305
The Aotearoa Society celebrated Matariki, the beginning of Aotearoa New Zealand’s new year in the Māori lunar calendar with the presence of Minister for Māori Development, Broadcasting and Media Willie Jackson.
More than 70 people attended the Matariki Kiwiana
Dinner which featured a special menu of Māori and Kiwi delicacies on Wednesday
evening at Coastal Kitchen.
In Māori culture, Matariki is the Pleiades star
cluster and a celebration of its first rising in late June or early July.
Aotearoa celebrated Matariki as a public
holiday for the first time last year.
Minister Jackson has come across from Aotearoa to
support Matariki and meet with Government officials.
His first visit to Rarotonga was back in 1992 with a
rugby team, when he also met former Prime Minister the late Sir Geoffrey Henry.
During his remarks, Jackson reflected on the unique
relationship between the two countries and the shared heritage as respective
iwi Māori .
Jackson said Matariki is about a national New Zealand
identity that everyone can tap into.
He noted the Labour Government, in particular their former
leader Jacinda Arden.
“I was very proud of the way she drove the Matariki ..
I didn’t know whether it was going to go
down a couple of years ago, I thought there might be too much of a push against
it but our young ones embraced it and now our whole country’s embraced it,” he
Jackson revealed that throughout his years as Minister
he never thought initiatives like
Matariki would get through with a main stream government.
“I have seen changes in the six years that I have been
Minister that I never though I would see in my lifetime,” said Jackson.
He presented a stunning fish hook sculpture to the
hosts of the evening to Jaewynn McKay, and Derek Fox - a New Zealand
broadcaster, commentator, publisher, journalist and Māori Party candidate in
Jackson is also the Associate Minister for ACC,
Housing (Māori Housing), and Social Development and Employment (Māori
This week, Matariki Korikori, the name given to a
cluster of Matariki events, is being hosted throughout the week by the New
Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands, Tui Dewes.
The purpose of Matariki Korikori is to highlight the
special relationship that exists between Aotearoa and the Cook Islands.
Events which have been happening include: the Matariki
Taurima Kiriata or Matariki Film Festival, school workshops, a concert and the
opportunity to learn from a Māori astrophysicist Dr Pauline Harris on the
The New Zealand High Commission, in partnership with
the New Zealand Film Commission, is screening free films at the Empire Cinema
until 15 July.
Resident film makers, Hamish Bennett and Glenda
Tuaine, join us last night for the premiere screenings of their respective
films, Bellbird and Taonga
Apii Nikao and Apii Nukutere joined the special matinée
screening of Whale Rider.
Tereora College, Apii Takitumu, Te Uki Ou and Nukutere
College also attended another screening of Whale Rider where Minister Jackson
addressed the student.
Matariki Korikori is a cluster of events the High
Commission is hosting to highlight and strengthen our hononga Māori, through
kapa haka, korero, kai, kiriata and a konohete.
Tonight the Matariki Korikori reception and premier
screening of Whetu Marama: Bright Star will be held.