Matariki (pleiades) is the Māori name for a small but distinctive star cluster that marks the beginning of the Māori New Year. This year, the cluster rose on June 21 and to celebrate the occasion, organisations throughout the country have staged festivals, evennts and activities. In Christchurch, Rehua Marae in Springfield Road, was one of the focuses for celebrations. I went along there to check out the Story Blanket display, organised by Christchurch City Libraries, and to the Matariki Fun Day held on Saturday, June 30.
Christchurch City Libraries organised a busy schedule of events that included Matariki Story Time for tamariki at a number of their libraries; school sessions; and the Story Blankets project (among others). The blankets – created by different libraries with the help of community groups - depicted stories told by six prominent New Zealand writers including Witi Ihimaera (The Whale Rider), Gavin Bishop (Taming the Sun), Patricia Grace (The Kuia and the Spider), Melanie Drewery (Stories from Our Night Sky), Ben Brown (Fifty-Five Feathers) and Robin Kahukiwa (The Forgotten Taniwha).
Spread out on mattresses on the floor of the main wharenuui, the blankets created a bright focal point and were testament to the creators, who obviously spent many hours designing and stitching each blanket.
Saturday’s Fun Day was a pleasant, relaxed affair that started with a waiata session in the wharenui plus creative workshops led by people like highly-regarded Ngāi Tahu jewelller, Areta Wilkinson and clothing designer Ron Te Kawa. Stalls, music and kai throughout the day completed the picture.