Making connections with iwi partners Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei

Publish Date : 10 Jun 2022
Marama Royal NWO
Marama Royal, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei‘s Trust Board Chair

To celebrate Matariki, Tāmaki Makaurau will play host to a wide range of events across the region and, as part of Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland Council’s Matariki Festival, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei are proud to be once again named Iwi Manaaki, or iwi partner. And to make this year extra special, 2022 marks the first year Matariki will be celebrated with a public holiday.

As iwi partner, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei are hosting two of the pou (signature) events for Matariki Festival 2022. The first is an Umu Kohukohu Whetū, a traditional Māori ceremony that acknowledges and celebrates Matariki. This will also launch the 2022 festival on 21 June. The second is Manu Aute Kite Day at Takaparawhau, the perfect outing to delight the whānau.

To learn more about what it means to be Iwi Manaaki, we had a kōrero with Marama Royal, Chair of the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust Board.

What does it mean to be Iwi Manaaki with Auckland Council for Matariki?

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei are very proud to be hosting the Matariki Festival again this year, after being iwi manaaki last year. This is an exciting time and it’s wonderful to see such a rich kaupapa Māori like Matariki being acknowledged on the national scale. It is only right for my iwi to be leading this kaupapa in our city and within our rohe (area). I want to acknowledge Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland Council for embracing Matariki celebrations and strengthening our relationship by partnering with us again this year.

What is happening for Matariki 2022?

We will launch the Matariki Festival with an Umu Kohukohu Whetū beginning at 5.30am on June 21, on Takaparawhau (Bastion Point). This involves a traditional earth oven and an offering to Matariki. During this ceremony we will also read out the names of all our loved ones who have passed away during the previous year. It is important to acknowledge them all as they take their place as a star in the sky, amongst Matariki. Following the Umu Kohukohu Whetū, we will all have some kai. There is also the Manu Aute Kite Day event. Everyone can come up and fly their kites, and what better place to do that than Takaparawhau. Families are invited to come with their picnics and sit on the whenua and enjoy each other’s company. It’s such a lovely way to celebrate. We are also leading and supporting various events and gatherings across the city, including a number of activations with Auckland Council in the city. We look forward to hosting everyone on our whenua for these two events.

What have previous years been like?

Last year, 2022, we launched the festival with a dawn karakia and it was beautiful. Even though we were battling unpleasant storm weather we still had just over 300 people attend. We began in our wharenui (meeting house) because it was raining and as we made our way outside, the rain turned into mist and it was the most special moment. We saw it as a sign that Matariki was rising. Then we headed into the wharekai (dining room) to feed and entertain everyone, and they loved it.

How did you celebrate Matariki when you were younger?

We knew that our tūpuna (ancestors) were great navigators, and that they used the stars as a navigation tool, but I didn’t know anything about Matariki until my adult years.

Do you feel Matariki is better taught today?

Our tamariki are definitely learning about it from an earlier age. I hear my own grandchildren singing about it and talking about the different stars in the Matariki cluster, its fabulous. The 2022 Matariki Festival coincides with the the first official indigenous public holiday ever in Aotearoa. This is a great leap for mātauranga māori and tikanga māori and will play a massive roll in normalising kaupapa like this, and te reo Māori also, across our country.

What makes Matariki special?

Matariki is the start of the new year for te ao Māori so why wouldn’t it be worth celebrating? Matariki is a time to pause, reflect on the past year and prepare and plan for the year to come. This could involve being with your nearest and dearest. And as you come together, you’ll see that Matariki is also a great time for storytelling and adding to our kete of stories that help people learn about the importance of Matariki and what it means.

As Chair of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, will you be making any resolutions for your people?

I want our whānau to stay healthy and well, to live their lives the best they can and to be really proud of who they are. We’re one of the biggest iwi living in central Tāmaki, there’s a real pride in that. I also want us to look not just at the present, but to the future, for our tamariki and mokopuna.


As part of their role as Iwi Manaaki, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has created a Whakataukī to support the festival:

Hikaia ngā ahi o Matariki

Hikaia ngā ahi o Te Kahu Tōpuni o Tuperiri

Light the ceremonial fires of Matariki

Light the ceremonial fires of Te Kahu Tōpuni o Tuperiri

You can read more about the whakataukī here

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