News | 11 August 2022
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Pōneke celebrates te reo Māori with an exciting new festival

A partnership between Wellington City Council, Taranaki Whānui and Ngāti Toa Rangatira is bringing a fantastic new festival of events, activities, and exhibitions to Pōneke to coincide with September’s nationwide Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori celebrations.

Ngā Kapa Haka o Te Matatini performers in action
Ngā Kapa Haka o Te Matatini - image credit Te Matatini

Te Hui Ahurei Reo Māori o Te Whanganui-a-Tara, the Māori Language Festival of Wellington, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Māori language petition delivered to Parliament in September 1972 with te reo Māori focused arts and events.

Many of the whānau-friendly events are free, or on a sliding pay scale, so everyone’s welcome and encouraged to pay what they can. 

The programme includes a screening of the te reo Māori version of Disney’s hugely popular animated feature The Lion King, and a special Storytime reading of children’s books in Te Reo Māori accompanied by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. 

The multi-sensory experience Te Pae will bring together artforms and top artists including Troy Kingi, Horomona Horo, Maisey Rika, and Ria Hall. 

There’ll also be a night of cabaret, kōrero and kai with Thoroughly Modern Māui, and performance excellence will be on display at Ngā Kapa Haka o Te Matatini showcasing Aotearoa’s top two kapa haka, reigning Te Matatini champion Ngā Tūmanako (Auckland) and Te Pikikōtuku o Ngāti Rongomai (Rotorua), hosted by local kapa haka Te Ahi a Tahurangi.

Wāhine Māori: Te Toi o Te Ātetenga (Wāhine Māori: Art Of Resistance) will also be on display at Wellington Museum, featuring an impressive group of multi-disciplinary artists working across photography, sculpture, fashion, weaving and paint, with the works grounded in activism. 

The festival is part of the Tūpiki Ora Māori strategy, a partnership between Council and mana whenua with an action plan and a shared commitment to support our whānau to thrive, improve well-being, and provide a better future for our mokopuna.

Council’s Tātai Heke Māori Karepa Wall says: “Partnership and participation are key foundations in the success of this strategy, and being able to embrace and engage with te reo Māori and tikanga Māori provides the pillars which will help support our people, our community, and our land.

“This festival is also an outcome and celebration of Te Tauihu o Te Reo Māori, the Māori Language policy and Tākai Here, our formalised partnership enabling mana whenua to take a leading role in Māori celebrations and language initiatives.

“Our tupuna 50 years ago fought to see, feel, hear and live with our language around us each and every day, to see the Māori language restored as a nurturing first language. Here in partnership with mana whenua we are providing a platform for our language to be prominent in the capital city of Aotearoa.”

Performer from Thoroughly Modern Māori
Thoroughly Modern Māori credit Ivan Muller

Ngāti Toa Board Chair Callum Katene is excited about this festival to celebrate te reo in our city, hot on the heels of the very first Matariki public holiday. 

“With te reo being spoken extensively on television, radio and in our schools, it's clear the wider community is ready to embrace and celebrate our unique and shared culture.

“Te Ahurei O Te Reo is another step forward for Wellington City Council, and further illustrates their commitment to the Tākai Here agreement with mana whenua.”

Te Hui Ahurei Reo Māori o Te Whanganui a Tara is a great example of a successful co-governance strategy between Te Āti Awa, Taranaki Whānui, Ngāti Toa and Wellington City Council, says Lee Hunter, Tumu Whakarae Chief Executive, Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust.

“The Māori Language Festival of Wellington is an opportunity for any person of any ethnicity to learn about our reo, tikanga and history on a national or local scale. 

“Let’s tautoko Māori in everyday conversations within the capital city of Aotearoa – if the capital city adopts everyday reo, that sets the bar for the rest of the country.”

The Festival is produced by Tāwhiri, the makers of Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts, Wellington Jazz Festival and other major creative events.

Find out more about the events and how to book at

More information about events and activities around the city for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori will be available at next month.