Arrowtown needs volunteers, performers for Matariki event

May 23, 2024

As the temperature drops and the nights get longer, excitement is building for the third annual Matariki Arrowtown Kā-Muriwai celebration.

And it's not too far away, with the event set for June 28.

The search is on for local performers willing to take the stage in a 'talent showcase' alongside kapa haka performers, as well as volunteers to help ensure the event's success.

This year's theme is 'Bringing Whānau Together', and organisers are planning activities and events to appeal to all ages.

Arrowtown astronomer Gemma Cribb, who hails from Ngāti Manuhiri, will be the night's keynote speaker. She'll be able to explain the stars of Matariki as well as others in the night sky important to Māori.

Meanwhile other locals with knowledge and know-how will also be part of the event, providing opportunity for a glimpse into aspects of the Māori world.

First up is Te Papa Reo, which will be a fun, interactive way for young and old to learn some new te reo Māori words and phrases.

Printed words will hang in trees in Marshall Park, with friendly te reo Māori speakers on hand to help visitors learn and pronounce them.

Then, Te wāhi harakeke will be a chance to sit on the floor with local practitioners and have a hands-on weaving experience, while Manu Tioriori, the chance for the sharing of waiata or songs.

Also this year, a trio of trees will be decorated to symbolise a wishing tree, a memory tree, and a family tree.

The idea is for people to visit the trees and take a moment to reflect as well as look forward. People can choose to leave a memory, add a photo of a family member, or leave a wish for the year ahead.

The trees recognise the concept of Ngā Rākau takitoru - the three main elements of Matariki - Hunga Nui (remembrance), Ahunga Nui (celebrating today), and Manako Nui (future aspirations).

Iwi liaison for the event committee is Cory Ratahi, who says he is proud of the "mahi" that has gone into bringing the local event together in an authentic and respectful way. 

2024's theme is 'bringing whānau together' (Image:Supplied/Federico Pagola).

“Although small, we, the local Māori community, are passionate about supporting our Arrowtown Matariki celebration this year."

He says many local Māori and non-Māori have been involved in the Māori kaupapa behind the scenes for many years.

"This celebration is an opportunity for us to come together and share our passion with the rest of the community."

Arrowtown schools pupils are also preparing for the celebration, creating artwork and learning kapa haka and waiata, while museum staff are developing a 'Matariki around the World' exhibit to coincide with the event.

Watson & Wyatt director Ann Wyatt, whose event company is working closely with the local committee, likes seeing the community getting involved.

“I am immensely grateful for the local support we have received so far.

"Additionally, if any members of the Arrowtown or wider community would like to help on the day of the event or perform, we are currently accepting volunteer applications as well as talent applications for the Library Green stage."

Last year's Matariki event (Image: Supplied/Still Vision Photography).

Talent sought for the Library Green includes poets, singers and bands of up to three performers.

Volunteers are sought for a range of roles including street guides for visitors, kitchenhands for reusable dishes, koha donation collectors, traffic and parking guides, and hosts for the interactive displays, plus all volunteers can expect to receive an annual Skyline pass for their time as a thank you from the festival.

The application forms for volunteers and talent can be found on the Matariki event page at, and they need to be submitted by June 14.

Matariki Arrowtown Kā-Muriwai will run from 3.30pm until 8.30pm on Friday, June 28, which is a public holiday.

It is a free event, with attendees encouraged to make a koha donation towards future Matariki Arrowtown Kā-Muriwai events.

Before Arrowtown was known by that name, it was called Kā-Muriwai by local tangata whenua. 

About Matariki 

Matariki is an abbreviation of ‘Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea’ (‘The Eyes of the God Tāwhirimātea’) and refers to a large cluster of stars, also known as the Pleiades.

The rising of Matariki in the mid-winter sky marks the changing of the seasons and the beginning of the Māori New Year. Traditionally, for our Māori tūpuna (ancestors), when Matariki appeared in June/July, clear and bright stars promised a warm and abundant winter, while hazy stars warned of a bleak winter. 

Matariki is a time to honour those who’ve passed since the last rising of Matariki, to celebrate the present and give thanks for what we have, and to look forward to the future.

Main image (Supplied/Federico Pagola): Matariki celebrations in Arrowtown in 2023. 

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