Celebrating Matariki at Little Earth Montessori Kapiti

Matariki has always been a part of our conversations here at Little Earth Montessori Kapiti. We constantly revisit books and songs about Matariki. From time to time older children also share their experiences of past Matariki celebrations at preschool. For the last two months we had more focused discussion and had various activities on it as we commemorate Māori New Year.

We kicked off our Matariki celebration In June with a group of our oldest children going for a trip join the Mahinga Kai event at Mahara Gallery in Waikanae. They participated in a Matariki story telling session and watched a Kapa Haka performance.

The teachers and parents also had an opportunity to enrich their knowledge on tikanga Māori by participating in an Introduction to te reo Māori and Mihimihi session at preschool led by one of our parents, Karena Kelly, who is a lecturer at the School of Maori Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. We had so much fun learning that we are going to have a follow up session. Watch this space!

Then we had our Matariki Hangi and Cultural Evening to culminate our Matariki celebrations at the end of July. We had a Matariki hākari (feast) and our families brought food from their country of origin and/ or a family favourite. We also had a hangi cooker going on. 

A few days before the Matariki Hākari (feast) the interest and excitement of the children are apparent. There are lots of questions- “Can we bring our torches?” “Is it tomorrow?” Some are also excited to share what their families are going to bring.

On the day of the hākari, with great purpose the children set to help about in preparing for the dinner. Some set the stars on the pathway to guide their families to preschool. Others arranged the flowers, cut the kale, and prepared the vegetables for the hangi. Some were also serious in practising their Matariki waita.

We all brought and shared a dish of food that was special to us. After dinner we all went outside and enjoyed the beautiful evening and night sky, looking above to locate the Matariki stars while singing our special Little Earth Montessori Kapiti song. 

It was great to see our wider whanau of Little Earth Montessori Kapiti come together to celebrate our oneness as a community and at the same time celebrate and acknowledge the cultural richness and diversity within our community. Each of the stories, food, songs and laughter we shared will for ever be part of our nga tamariki’s tapestry of life. It will be one of the happy memories they will carry with them.

At the end of the event all the families went home with a happy heart and big smiles on their faces. One parent commented, “Thank you for all the efforts putting on a memorable night for our children. My child was excited leading up to the night and was very talkative about the preparation activities. Thanks for another special family event.”