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Reflections on Matariki

Leading up to the free whānau Matariki Concert being held at the Whirikoka Campus of Te Wananga O Aotearoa on Saturday, July 3 Merle Walker took the opportunity to talk to some of the artists who will be gracing the stage about the reason for the season, Matariki.

Merle asked the questions: 1. As a Māori artist and producer within the music industry, how important is it for you to be able to celebrate Matariki not only through your mahi, but also as an individual?

2. As of 2022 we get to move forward as a nation by implementing Matariki as an annual holiday. This will be the first traditional Māori event recognised with the mainstream calendar. What impact do you see this having within the Music Industry, positive or negative?

Tyna Keelan

Tyna Keelan is a local artist, musician and producer who has been working in the music industry for years. This multi award-winning artist continues to create and produce his own music, while currently working at Te Wananga o Aotearoa as a Tutor and mentoring rangatahi when he has time.

“Matariki is an important time in my calendar for a number of reasons. Being Māori and from Ngāti Porou we celebrate our uniqueness and our knowledge or maturanga that makes us special.

“As an artist I find Matariki a great time to be creative and work on new projects. I tend to be busy at this time of the year as well with shows and projects so that's cool”.

“I can see that there will be a lot of opportunities for Māori artists to exhibit their work regardless of medium, but most importantly it's a chance to share our culture and normalize this important taonga for all New Zealanders”.

Tama Waipara

While many of us will have encountered Tama as the CEO & Artistic Director of Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival, he is of course also an Award-winning Artist, Singer/Songwriter and Composer. What a treat to be able to experience Tama performing at the Matariki Concert on Saturday…

“Over the years Matariki has become an important time for artists to gather, to share new ideas, to recognise the ups and downs and to remember those who have passed on. There was a time when I knew absolutely nothing about Matariki so I feel fortunate there are those who have opened up this Mātauranga for us all to explore”.

“Mostly positive I think. The season of Matariki is one opportunity to celebrate who we are as Māori but it’s not the only season. Being Māori is a year round celebration. Musicians are often busy at this time as well as the summer so it’s a great way to map out times of the year for different kaupapa. I don’t know what impact it will have on the industry but I feel very positive about the growth of our Reo Māori artists and young performers coming through who see and embrace a totally different way of making their way in the world”.


Leon is a multi-talented guitarist, drummer, percussionist, songwriter and producer, and is a member of one of Aotearoa’s favourite reggae bands, KATCHAFIRE.

“Honestly, it’s only because I am a musician that I celebrate Matariki at all, otherwise it would probably just be another day!

“As an individual, I’m only starting to learn about my culture and language, my upbringing was very strict, and very religious. Also me and my wife have just started studying Te Reo Māori at Te Wananga o Aotearoa in Hamilton, we’re hoping to be able to converse with each other in the next 3 years.

“And of course, the more I learn the more I will understand the importance of Matariki.

“The fact that Matariki is going to be recognised as a public holiday in 2022 makes me so proud to be Māori. You know, people are gonna have a hard time stopping this movement, because we just won’t stop fighting until we have all that was taken from us, and until we have total equality.

We lead the world in the resurgence of culture & language. Damn it feels good to be Māori! Lol!”

“Any step forward with our language and culture is only good, because not only will it open the rest of the country to just how beautiful our language and culture is, but it will teach other countries in the world how to live as a nation by respecting each other’s language and culture”.

Philly Tarawa

Philly is the Program Director and a radio announcer on Turanga FM on a show called ‘The Switch Up’ from 10am to 2pm weekdays. He is also a part of local emerging band Supreme Brother Sound who will be releasing their first EP on July 14th and have a release party soon after on the 24th of July at The Dome.

“Matariki is a time of reflection and a time where whānau come together to celebrate the year that was and start working on a year that is about to grace us. It is hugely important for us to use this time to heal the Wairua, the Tinana and the Hinengaro going forward. These things are what are important to me and my whānau, moving forward.

“This is going to be huge not only for us as a nation but us as Māori people, for so many years we have put all our kaupapa Māori on the back burner and it’s about time our kaupapa get recognition. It’s about time we normalise this kaupapa so that we as Māori can use this space to uplift our culture and support all artists in all mediums, here in Aotearoa”.

Story by Merle Walker Photographs supplied


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