In the pre-dawn hours of 24 June volunteers from Te Rūnanga o Waihao arrived at Waimate Main School to set up the gas kai-cookers, pack the food in and start the process of preparing a meal for the community.

As the tamariki of the Waimate District start arriving at the Waimate High School, there was excitement in the air. People were clustered in little groups sorting out last minute arrangements. Then the Tahu FM vehicle was seen arriving, as Rocky and Sista — the breakfast crew from our Iwi Radio Station — returned again to MC the day.

The day began with a mihi whakatau led by Upoko Rūnanga, Tewera King, followed by a speech from Deputy Mayor Sharyn Cain. Tamariki then took to the stage for our fifth Waimate kapa haka festival to celebrate Matariki.

The tamariki of Waimate District kura and Early Childhood Education centres performed their hearts out and the Waimate High School hall was full to overflowing with proud parents and tamariki. The hall reverberated to waiata Māori, haka, laughter and fun all co-ordinated by Rocky and Sista, showing our tamariki how cool it is to be Māori, and how cool it is to do kapa haka. He mīharo te rā.

After all the wonderful performances by the kura and kura kōhungahunga, our local community kapa haka group Ngā Reo o Waimate joined the Waimate High School Rōpū for the final bracket followed by the karakia whakakapi once again led by Tewera King.
Then everyone moved to Waimate Main where they joined in the meal prepared by Te Rūnanga o Waihao volunteers. He rawe te kai.

As a result of funding support from Te Puni Kōkiri, the support of Te Rūnanga o Waihao, and the backing of the education community of this district, 250 tamariki of all ages performed at the Matariki Festival and approximately 450 people joined under the banner of Matariki for a community meal.

This festival continues to go from strength-to-strength because of a few hardworking teachers and Māori community members who make up the Waimate Matariki Festival committee. All the work and preparation is worth it to see the happy faces of tamariki and mokopuna as they grow in confidence, expressing themselves through kapa haka.

Waimate Kindergarten performing at Matariki Festival 2016.