On the day before the opening of the Te Matatini kapa haka festival, the “haka lanterns” were installed at a pedestrian crossing next to Waitangi Park, where thousands attended the festival’s opening powhiri today.
“The hosting of Te Matatini - the pinnacle event for Māori performing arts – is a proud moment for Wellington, and the haka lanterns reflect the critical role mana whenua and tangata whenua play in our city,” says Wellington Mayor Justin Lester.
“As we have done for many other significant events, Council has commissioned a unique haka pedestrian lantern to be installed in a number of crossings across the city. The vision was to have these installed as a piki mai ki Pōneke – a welcome to Wellington.
“With help from the New Zealand Transport Agency, we have been able to get them up in time for Te Matatini, so thousands of festival-goers can enjoy them.”
The lanterns are being installed indefinitely at seven nearby intersections.
Deputy Mayor Jill Day says since Waitangi Day “we have really been encouraging people to kia kaha te reo Māori, and give te reo Māori a go.
“We have more than 80 locations in the CBD and around the city that are supporting us in this endeavour, and the haka lanterns are a fantastic addition to it,” she adds.
Last week, Wellington City Council was proud to unanimously pass the Te Tauihu Action Plan outlining our journey to becoming a bilingual city by 2040. February has been a month long celebration of te reo in Pōneke.
This year is also the national celebration of indigenous languages.
Council has previously installed alternative pedestrian lights in other parts of the city: Commemorating Kate Sheppard in the Parliament precinct, Carmen on Cuba Street, a soldier at Pukeahu War Memorial and John Plimmer around Customhouse Quay.