Kapa haka and Māori entertainers the highlight of Ōtautahi Matariki celebration

Kapa haka performers stole the show at the Matariki celebration at Christchurch's Town Hall on Friday.
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Kapa haka performers stole the show at the Matariki celebration at Christchurch’s Town Hall on Friday.

Kapa haka entertainers stole the show as Ōtautahi Christchurch’s Town Hall hosted a Matariki celebration concert to signify its first public holiday.

The event, brought together by Ngāi Tahu and the James Hay Theatre, celebrated the start of the Māori New Year and the changing of seasons with kapa haka performances, bands and special guest host William Waiirua on Friday.

Ran by the community for the community, the day was about raising awareness of a holiday that was still a new concept to some people in New Zealand, Ngāi Tahu’s David Brennan said.

“It’s not a time for big political speeches…just everyone on an equal level having a good time.

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“It panned out really well in the end, the highlights were for sure the local entertainers.”

The event was also livestreamed on the Waka on Avon Facebook page for those who couldn’t attend.

Kapa haka members perform at the first Matariki ki Ōtautahi Matariki celebration.

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Kapa haka members perform at the first Matariki ki Ōtautahi Matariki celebration.

Fush restaurant owner and Ōtautahi te reo Māori champion Anton Matthews was MC.

The full lineup included three kapa haka groups, a choir performance, a Matariki performance piece by Mahi Mahi Productions, and local band Dillastrate closing the show.

“It was a great experience. It’s awesome New Zealand is moving this way and embracing Matariki. It’s all about understanding the universe, the environment and culture behind it.

“It’s a universal celebration of Matariki.”

Personal goals for Brennan for next year’s event included improving, refining and innovating the current model.

Next year’s event would look to introduce technology and virtual reality to make it a “universal immersive experience,” he said.

Fush's Anton Matthews was the MC of the Ōtautahi Matariki celebration.  (File photo).

George Heard/Stuff

Fush’s Anton Matthews was the MC of the Ōtautahi Matariki celebration. (File photo).

Dr Roy Clifford of the University of Canterbury would assist with this, he said.

Canterbury Māori tourism operator Brennan operates Waka On Avon and Ko Tāne, Māori cultural experience. This year’s Matariki event is the sister event to the Waitangi Day Festival which he and the Pounamu Ngāi Tahu Trust has been running in Victoria Square since 2019.

Annually the event attracts up to 15,000 visitors, but due to Covid restrictions this year the Waitangi Day Festival was limited to a livestreaming event.

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