Matariki - Wanaka, 2018


Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter and for many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year. Matariki literally means the 'eyes of god' (mata ariki) or 'little eyes' (mata riki).

Many moons ago, I remember Kahu Youth wanting to host a celebration in Wanaka, for the Upper Clutha community to be able to come together and celebrate Matariki. As with many things Kahu Youth are involved in, they blossom and grow into something very spectacular.

This year, we were asked by Kahu Youth if we could come down and photograph this special community gathering. What an absolute privilege to be invited to be a part of this celebration in this way. It’s a way for us to be able to offer our skills into a community event to help say thank you for being there for us and to help add a little extra strength to the whole. As the day drew on, this feeling was constantly felt and you come to understand that this is a celebration that no amount of money could buy. This is what a strong healthy community looks like.


Located at the world famous in New Zealand Wanaka Dinosaur park (home to a permanent hangi pit - funded in response to these Matariki celebrations), is where all the action happens.

The public celebrations begin when tamariki from across the Upper Clutha come together to perform for us, acting as a welcome and a start of celebration of who we are as a community, setting the way for a beautiful day and year ahead.

As the various workshops start to begin, you’re surrounded by happy playful young people. They’re busy in nourishing ways, yup, there’s cell phones being used but mostly to take pictures and tell other of the great time they are having. You can hear the excitement as bubbles are made and are blown gently across the crowd.


As the time to lift the kai in the hangi approached, we were treated to a breathtaking kapa haka performance from our Te Ara Reo whanau and the steam rose into the air as the kai was lifted and the darkness started to take hold bringing the time for us to feast.


With warmed bodies, matua Jeromy narrated the kōrero of how Māui brought fire to the world. Mahuika and Māui danced with flames illuminating the transfixed faces of the crowd until darkness was firmly set in all around.


This signaled the time for the fireworks. An epic display set to close the day and bring smiles to the vast ever increasing crowd of observervers. The sounds echoed off the mountain sides, almost as though our place was speaking back to us as the sky was illuminated in a vast array of colours.

What a way to bring in the new year.


These are just a selection of the hundreds of photographs we shot during the day.

Pop on over to our Facebook album to see the rest.

Feel free to share the images there with your friends, they are there for you to enjoy and we’d like to ask you to link back to our Facebook and Instagram when you do . If you’d like prints of these images, and we can easily guide you through that process.