When we attended Central Kids Hazelmere’s evening Matariki celebration, we were not prepared for the utter magic that kept on greeting us at each corner that we turned.
As we passed through the gate from the drive, candles burning in the middle of mandala’s made from natural objects, totally delighted us. In the distance and within the kindy building, fairy lights beckoned us to move inside. Excited children waving their light sticks and beaming parents being warmly greeted by staff increased the feeling of a special evening about to get even better.
When we wandered outside, there they were, parents, grandparents and friends of the children, they had settled themselves round a fire place encircled by hāngī stones and saw-horses which were used as an extra barrier for safety. Several older men sat close to the fire talking and smiling and I believe; were also acting as custodians/kaumātua for the assembled people.
Families had brought rugs to settle upon, and in the near distance shone the apple tree which we were invited to place a remembrance star or card upon. That was thus transformed to an enchanted item in the landscape and encouraged some deeper feelings of love and sadness for the passing of loved ones.
A staff member found a chair for me to sit on (I had recently had a hip operation) and we sat and watched the children who were so absorbed in being at a special time for themselves: outside and at night. What a delight.
Next, I was assisted to walk in the beautifully decorated ngahere where there was much giggling and scampering of younger bodies than mine, as the children ran through beautifully transformed trees and shrubs.
And the cold, clear night and fairy lights, all the time encouraged us to look up at our night-sky and notice the stars flickering above.
On our way back through the building I loved seeing the focus on Te Ao Māori themes and information in posters, art works, and in specially designated areas. And the icing on the cake and embedding the significance of the celebration, was that each child on leaving, was presented with a seedling and given a choice of a star shaped delicious cookie.
We left, feeling that we had been privileged to share a magical mid winter, new year (Matariki) amongst those in our community who were committed to providing the very best cultural experiences for their young ones.
Marion Evans and David Lewis.