News | 14 June 2019
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Ahi Kā reaches for the stars in Matariki celebrations

The Wellington Waterfront will be set alight Friday 21 June with ahi (fire), kai (food), and entertainment from over 30 musical groups, artists and performers for Ahi Kā – a celebration of Matariki, the Māori New Year.

Rob Thorne performing on woodwind as part of Ahi Kā.

Students from nine schools around the capital will form a stream of light around the waterfront that will launch Ahi Kā. They will parade around Whairepo Lagoon with lanterns they’ve created, acknowledging the life-giving streams that travel under our city and converge in the harbour, and are reflected by the seven to nine sisters above that form the Matariki star cluster.

There’ll also be music performers, kapa haka, dance, and poi demonstrations, as well as food trucks, toasted marshmallows, an outdoor cinematic event, art installations and light shows, plus street entertainers.

Mayor Justin Lester says making sure Matariki and Ahi Kā are major events in the capital’s diary is important as it reflects how the country is embracing tangata whenua and our combined history.

“We want Wellingtonians to come together at Ahi Kā, to celebrate the Māori New Year by reflecting on the past and what’s ahead, learning about what Matariki means, and experiencing some of the amazing local talent on show.”

One of the performing groups on the Matariki Stage is Taita Clubhouse – a place for at-risk young people, coordinated by former Upper Hutt Posse band member Bennett Pomana.

Bennett says taking part in Ahi Kā is a great experience for all involved – and is even more significant as they are part of the Matariki celebrations.

“The Taita Clubhouse is a creative space for young people to come to when life can be tough, it’s somewhere to be creative, escape, and be themselves. Having this as something to aim for has been a real motivator, and they’ve been practising really hard.”

Bennett says their music varies from pop to hip hop, and some is a bit of a mishmash – but it comes from the heart.

“They’re really excited about Ahi Kā and performing in public as they’re very passionate about what they do, and keen to achieve their goals – and this is one of them.”

Councillor Nicola Young, Associate Arts and Culture portfolio holder, says this is the perfect time for the event.

“This is a great celebration, and at this time of the year everyone can take part and enjoy the lights, entertainment, and festivities.”