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Park a-glow for Matariki

The 2019 event celebrating Matariki in Masterton’s Queen Elizabeth Park. PHOTO/FILE

There is a lot to like about Queen Elizabeth Park in the centre of Masterton.

For three nights during Queen’s Birthday Weekend, there will be even more to enjoy, namely the Tirama Matariki Light Glow, where the Lake of Remembrance island comes alive with fairy lights and displays of Maori imagery.

Organised by Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, iwi representative Melissa Ihaka said the festival aimed to revive the Maori tradition of marking the passage of time and celebrating the Maori harvest within a modern context.

“Tirama Matariki is our region’s most prominent indigenous festival, promoting Maori artists and Maori culture,” Ihaka said.

Tirama Matariki means “the sparkling stars of Matariki”.

During the three-day festival, children will get to delight at the lit-up island and interactive fun stations; write a message of love or a wish on to a water lantern and launch on to the Lake of Remembrance; and board the miniature train for a fun night-time ride around the island track.

Tirama Matariki Light Glow festival first ran in 2019.

Last year was cancelled due to covid-19 restrictions.

Ihaka said the festival provided an opportunity to create an environment where communities came together to reflect and celebrate unique Maori customs, “by Maori for Maori, for everyone, forever”.

“Our goal is to raise awareness of Matariki and to continue to develop and offer a festival that incorporates community initiatives and events.”

Since 2001, Ngati Kahungunu has supported Matariki by providing core funding to its six hapu regions in Wairoa, Napier, Hastings, Central Hawke’s Bay, Tararua, and Wairarapa.

Trust House was a key sponsor of the 2019 Tirama Matariki Light Glow and is again this year, giving a grant of $7000.

Organisers are extremely grateful for Trust House’s support, Ihaka said.

“Marking Matariki provides a positive model in response to some of the complex problems in our times,” she said.

“It provides a peak experience in our social lives with the purpose of reclaiming and enacting past traditions within a modern context.”


What: Tirama Matariki Light Glow

When: June 4-6, 5pm to 8pm

Where: Lake of Remembrance island, Queen Elizabeth Park, Masterton. Free entry

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