Matariki – aka the Maori New Year – a more or less month long sort of celebration around the mid year/winter solstice. I lived here for a long time, ten years or more without every hearing about it, but it’s been gaining in popularity. Not sure if it’s a greater acceptance of Maori culture by the mainstream, or maybe New Zealanders are just happy to have a distraction from our endless dreary winter. Either way, I rather like Matariki – it’s lack of defined traditions have left it open to a variety of celebretory activities. Last year there was day of kite flying with a stupendous array of airborn silken creatures.
This year, I went to a Kapa Haka competition. I think many people are at least vaguely familiar with the haka – a rather terrifying, eye-bulging, tongue wagging, chant/dance routine performed as a ‘welcome’ for visitors. My husband is still horrified by it – me more fascinated. But the kapa haka competition took it in a whole new direction, playful, tender, just plain goofy. Made for a great day. And the side attractions were an added bonus.
Traditional Maori carver at work