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Story written on Jun 25, 2018

New Carving Symposium and culturally inspired market take centre stage in Manukau for Matariki

To celebrate the season of Matariki ten local carvers will tell the stories of the stars, creating a unique maramataka (Māori lunar calendar) portable stone compass in Manukau.

Led by senior stone carvers Darryl Thompson (Ngāti Kahungunu) and Filipe Tohi (Tonga) the group will participate in the inaugural Rockstars Carving Symposium, creating 12 sculptured pou from Oamaru stone.

Taking place over five days, the symposium will end with the display of each pou at the Te Mata o Rehua Maramataka Cultural Market. The market will showcase indigenous and other ethnic kai, crafts, creative wares and local enterprise on June 30, from 10am - 2pm, in Manukau’s Civic Square.

Falling on the Oike phase of the moon, the day Papatūānuku is celebrated, the market will be followed in the evening by a special exhibition with a light projection onto the Council Civic Building.

The portable pou will go on to be used for multiple purposes including as a teaching resource for the community, connecting with and discussing traditional Māori systems in accordance to the maramataka.

“Te Mata o Rehua recognises that various iwi celebrate their New Year by the setting of Rehua and the rising of Puanga,” says Ole Maiava of Panuku Placemaking South. “The series provides an opportunity to celebrate Matariki in a way that acknowledges traditional knowledge, arts and crafts but also embraces modern technology. The carving symposium specifically, will look to incorporate key tohu indicators of maramataka, through stars, seasonal changes and different phases of the moon cycle, with the narratives then being overlaid by augmented reality.”

The carvers are a mix of mana whenua and mataawaka artists learning to carve in the stone medium.

Since navigating the vast oceans of the Pacific, and long-term occupation of Aotearoa, Māori and other Pacific peoples have relied on lunar calendars to measure the cycles of the natural environment.

“Our tipuna (ancestors) developed the maramataka based on their close relationship and understanding of their environment and the interconnectedness of the whenua (land), rangi (sky) and moana (seas). By closely observing their environment, they were able to identify days each month that were better suited for particular activities and tohu (signs) to help predict the season ahead,” shares Mason Ngawhika, Kaiārahi Māori Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa- Papakura. “In our unrelenting pursuit towards urbanisation, an awareness of the seasons starting with the celebration of Matariki, may be the most immediate way of reconnecting to our natural world and realising we are all under the same ‘roof’, influenced by the moon and stars.”

The Te Mata o Rehua celebrations provide a health focused, whanau-friendly series of activities

delivered in partnership with Heathy Families Manukau Manurewa-Papakura, The Southern Initiative and Panuku Placemaking South.

With the resident population set to increase from 6,000 to 20,000 people, Manukau has been identified by Panuku as a Transform location meaning, in order for it to reach its full potential it requires a long-term, integrated, holistic and custodial approach to its development.

The urban regeneration project has provided the platform to focus community development towards ‘thinking local’ and, embed indigenous cultural narratives across the Manukau urban landscape.

“We’ve been using the maramataka to help guide us in some of our team’s work activities, which in turn helps give intent to Council’s high level statement regarding a thriving Māori identity being Auckland’s point of difference,says David Rameka of The Southern Initiative. “There’s currently a number of organisations across the community including marae, schools, kura Māori and whānau that are utilising the maramataka in their respective activities.”

Mason Ngawhika adds: “Māori and many other Pacific societies are reviving and reconnecting with their ancestral lunar calendars to restore wisdom of agricultural productivity, marine and forest gathering, resource management, health, healing and daily practices that provide sustenance for the well-being of communities.

“Our goal is to provide the tools in support of a localised maramataka eco-system which leverages ancestral practices to inform community-level solutions and foster health and wellbeing.”