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Marking Matariki from Coast to Coast
Maori New Year was celebrated in many a creative way at kindergartens on both sides of New Zealand’s coast – in Lyttelton and Hokitika.
Song played a big part in Matariki celebrations at Kidsfirst Lyttelton, with the children learning several Maori songs, many quite lengthy, but memorised beautifully. The children absolutely looked the part for their performance of the songs to family and whanau, dressed in Kapa Haka costumes borrowed from a nearby school. And thanks to the wonderful generosity of a local couple with long-standing links to the kindergarten, the kindy group were treated to an authentic hangi. The children had the opportunity to watch the hangi being laid down, then later shared the hangi feast of pork, vegetables, chicken and lamb with the family group after their performance.
Head Teacher Liz Hinchey said they felt so fortunate to experience a truly traditional hangi.
“It was an amazing experience to see and taste the real deal. Many parents said it took them back to their childhood where they’d lived in areas where hangi were common.”
The children also visited the local Rehua Marae, and learnt about Maori legends.
“Celebrating Matariki has been a tradition here for many years,” Liz says, “It’s become a big part of our calendar. We have amazing support from parents and the Lyttelton community. It’s wonderful for the children to understand about Matariki and what it means, and feel the passion of Maori customs and performances.”
The kindergarten has a wonderful memento of its Matariki celebrations, in the form of a beautiful bound hardcover story about all that took place.
And at Kidsfirst Hokitika, family and whānau were hugely involved in preparations for the celebrations, and enjoyed coming in and learning alongside tamariki. The kindergarten became a visual celebration of Maori New Year, with lanterns and the stars of Matariki created and hung, and a dark, dark dell constructed, where children thrilled in reading stories by torchlight.
New waiata were learnt, and students from nearby Westland High School visited to sing, and showed the kindy group some simple weaving of whetu. The children made star cookies to present to the high school guests. A whānau gathering saw a hangi prepared modern-day style in a kai cooker – a huge hit with children and their families.
Kidsfirst Hokitika Teacher Annette Copping says getting parents together to discuss options for the programme helped gain their valuable support.
“Throughout our celebrations, we’ve seen wonderful community links, families supporting families, recycling, highlighting healthy everyday kai, caring and sharing and an enhanced knowledge and use of Te Reo. And everyone has had a lot of fun in the process!”
KIDSFIRST KINDERGARTENS ARE A NOT FOR PROFIT ASSOCIATION THAT HAS DEVELOPED AND MAINTAINED KINDERGARTENS IN CHRISTCHURCH, CANTERBURY AND ON THE WEST COAST FOR OVER 100 YEARS - AS THE PLACE LOCAL KIDS COME TO LEARN, PLAY AND HAVE FUN.
Local kindergartens celebrate Matariki on both sides of the island.