A new event organiser is spearheading this year’s Matariki celebrations in Arrowtown who, alongside a local committee, hopes to evolve and future-proof the event.

Matariki Arrowtown Kā-Muriwai is this year being organised by Watson & Wyatt, in conjunction with main sponsor Arrowtown Community Trust.

The Māori new year’s been celebrated in Arrowtown for over a decade, traditionally as a fundraiser for Arrowtown Preschool.

The event was formalised in 2022, after Matariki was declared a public holiday by the former government, at which time the Arrowtown celebrations were run by Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association boss Nicky Busst, who’s also the trust’s secretary.

She says the aim for this year’s event is to ‘‘bring Matariki back to its roots’’.

‘‘At its heart, it is an event by the community, for the community.

‘‘We have made meaningful changes this year which we believe will surprise and delight those who visit, but especially those who have come in previous years.’’

The theme of this year’s event, being held from 3.30pm till 8pm on Friday, June 28, is ‘bringing whānau together’.

Busst says action will extend further along Buckingham St, with educational experiences in the Athenaeum Hall and Lakes District Museum, plus two stages for entertainment.

Buckingham Green will host kapa haka performances from local schools, and the Library Green will showcase solo performers and poetry.

Watson & Wyatt director Ann Wyatt says timings are being brought forward to suit more families, there’ll be a ‘‘punchier’’ schedule between
performances and storytelling light projections, an abundance of Māori educational experiences, a more diverse and plentiful kai offering,
roaming entertainers and event hosts.

They’ve worked closely with local iwi to ensure the essence of Matariki is maintained and honoured and says she’s particularly excited about the new Rākau Takitoru (The Trio).

‘‘It includes a wishing tree, a memory tree and a family tree and we will be encouraging people to leave a memory, add a photo of a family
member, or leave a wish for the next year.’’

The full Matariki Arrowtown Kā-Muriwai will be published in May at arrowtown.com.

While the event will be free to attend, koha is welcomed, with proceeds going towards future Matariki events.

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