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Celebrating Matariki with our Nicholson Consulting whānau

Bernadette Scanlon (CEO):

The newly dedicated public holiday for Matariki offers an opportunity for all to pause, reflect, and even establish what may end up being a ‘tradition’ for years to come. This opportunity is no different for our Nicholson Consulting whānau.

We are in a unique position of looking at all our practices – both internal and external – and considering how we weave te ao Māori into all components that make up who we are as an organisation. This includes the establishment of our own Matariki celebration, which commenced in the early hours of Monday morning with hautapu, karakia, and the sharing of kai at Evans Bay.

Our wonderful Pou Whanake, Shanara Wallace, was influential in supporting us to do this. When recruiting for our Pou Whanake, we were looking for a person with a passion for all things Māori – including Te Tiriti o Waitangi, equity, te reo Māori, Kikanga/kawa, te ao Māori and Māori engagement. Shanara brings these things and so much more. She has provided us with a brief introduction and some reflections on Nicholson Consulting's Matariki event below.

Tērā a matariki, ka rewa ki te pae.

Nau mai haere mai ngā hua o te tau hou!

- Dr Huirangi Waikerepuru

Ko Shanara Wallace tōku ingoa.

He uri tēnei o ngā iwi o Ngāti Ruanui, o Ngā Rauru, o Ngāti Tūwharetoa, o Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, ā, ki Heretaunga hoki.

I grew up in Te Whanganui-ā-Tara and attended kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa, before moving to a mainstream high school. I found my way back to te ao Māori again at Te whare wānanga o Te Herenga Waka

I’m now working at Nicholson Consulting as Pou Whanake. My role is to support and build the capacity of our kaimahi to work with and for our whānau and hāpori Māori (Māori communities) in genuine and mana enhancing ways.

Over the last few years I have had the privilege of being in more spaces where mātauranga Māori is being discussed and practiced and learning what this means for me in my day-to-day life and mahi. With the coming of Matariki, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to to start discussions within our tari (office) about the wider kaupapa of te maramataka māori (the Māori lunar calendar) and the decolonization of time. These are kōrero we will continue to come back to over the next year.

For those who don't know, Matariki is a cluster of stars that signal the start of the new year when seen on the horizon at dawn. Some hapu & whānau recognise 7 whetū, others 9. These whetū are all associated with various aspects of our wellbeing and the environment. They are:

  • Matariki - the health and well-being of the people

  • Tupu ā nuku - food harvested from the soil

  • Tupu ā rangi - food grown in the skies and trees

  • Waitī - fresh bodies of water and all that grows there

  • Waitā - the oceans and all that grows there

  • Waipuna ā rangi - rainfall and the water cycle

  • Ururangi - the winds

  • Pōhutukawa - those who have passed on

  • Hiwa I te rangi – hopes and dreams

On Monday morning, Nicholson Consulting began our Matariki celebrations under the moon of Korekore Whakapiri, which is said to be a good time for wānanga and planning ahead. We came together bright and early (actually, it wasn’t bright at all, just early!) with our kaimahi and wider Nicholson Consulting whānau to kick off this period of acknowledging and celebrating the nine whetū (stars) of Matariki.

We started off with a whakamārama (explanation) of what Matariki is, how we might celebrate this period, and some of the whakaaro (ideas) behind our practices, before heading outside onto a chilly wharf to turn our gaze to the skies and carry out our own hautapu.

As many of the stars of Matariki are associated with the growth of kai (food) the whāngai I te hautapu ceremony, generally called hautapu, is one where we give thanks to the cluster by offering food from each of the domains and allowing the steam to rise into the sky to feed Matariki. This year we had kūmara for Tupu ā nuku, heihei (chicken) for Tupu ā rangi, hāmana (salmon) for Waitī and kūtai (mussels) for Waitā.

Through karakia, we recognised each whetū of Matariki and how they impact our environment and relate to us as we move about and live on this whenua, before giving thanks to these whetū by unveiling our kai and allowing the steam to rise. We then took a moment to remember those of our loved ones we have lost since the last rising of Matariki, who have been cared for by Pohutukawa over the past year and are now ready to be released as whetū against the chest of Ranginui.

Following this, we went back inside where the heaters were cranking to share kai and spend some time reflecting on the past year and setting intentions and goals for the new year. This was to acknowledge both Pohutukawa who also sees out the old year and Hiwa I te rangi who brings in the new year and takes care of our hopes and goals for the coming year.

Whilst it was a cold morning in Pōneke and we weren’t yet able to see Matariki or Puanga, or the other whetū that mark the new year for various iwi, it was made warmer by the coming together of whānau and friends, to share in both kai and kōrero.

My hope is that these forms of celebration continue over coming years and encourage us to look more to our taiao (environment) and our relationship with tangata whenua across the motu, as well as to encourage our whānau Māori to return home to our marae and hapū to learn the pūrākau (stories) and tikanga of our own whānau.

As for Nicholson Consulting, we are happy to have started this tradition in the first year that Matariki is being marked as a public holiday in Aotearoa, and we look forward to many more celebrations to come.

He mihi nui tēnei ki a Dr Rangi Mataamua, kua ūpoko pakaru I te whakarauoratanga o tēnei puna mātauranga, ō ēnei tikanga hoki. He mihi hoki tēnei ki ngā whānau kua āta whāomoomo I ēnei tikanga I waenganui I a koutou anō, kia ora tonu ngā tikanga a rātou mā. Mei kore ake koutou, ka kore hoki mātou.

This is a mihi to Dr Rangi Mataamua, who has spearheaded the revitalisation of this body of knowledge and these practices, and to the whānau who have carefully tended to these tikanga in their own homes for generations. If it weren’t for you all, we would not have the privilege of being able to carry out these practices now.

Maharatia te onamata – Remember the past

Mānawatia te inamata – Celebrate the present

Manakohia te anamata – Hope for the future

Mānawatia a Matariki!

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