Wāhine take the lead in this year's momentous Matariki celebration

“Of all the hautapu I’ve led over the years, this one feels the most fulfilling and appropriate. I say this because in Māori culture, women are revered as the highest form of sacredness.”

As Matariki approaches, we take a look at why this year’s official hautapu ceremony to welcome in the start of Matariki will hold special significance.

Not only will the Prime Minister and other guests from overseas be attending in Rotorua – but for the first time – wāhine Māori will be leading the karakia.

“The most remarkable aspect of this year is the participation of six women leading the karakia, with each karakia representing a different star.” 

One of those is Te Waikamihi Korohina Ormsby who has come from Brisbane to perform the karakia representing the star of Pōhutukawa.

“For me, returning home for this Māori New Year embodies the essence of the saying ‘Matariki calls you home”, she says.

Hautapu is a Māori tradition that commemorates and acknowledges the start and culmination of the Māori new year.

Traditionally men have led the karakia for hautapu but this year, organisers are actively trying to show why women should lead in these spaces.

Mataia Keepa is one of those pushing for things to be done a little differently.

“What better way to showcase to the world that within Māoridom, our people are resolute in their pursuit of equality”, he says. 

This is part of our reo Māori series, Ohinga, created by Mahi Tahi Media, with funding from Te Māngai Pāho. Stay tuned for a new episode every week.

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