Colour and kai to mark Matariki

20:41, Jun 18 2014
 Matariki Lantern Parade.
KAI TIME: Men prepare to lift the hangi at the Victory Community Centre.

The annual Matariki celebration at Victory last night was a celebration of not only the Maori New Year but a strong and thriving community.

The event which included a dance performance by Victory School, a choir, a parade of lanterns and a hangi, was made possible by the 150 community volunteers, said organiser Gareth Cashin. "I think it's just fantastic because it brings the community together," he said.

The event drew a huge turnout to the Victory Community Centre, with the hall packed during the cultural dancing demonstrations.

 Matariki Lantern Parade.
SPLASH OF COLOUR: Arts Soul Contemporary Dance perform in the Victory Community Centre as part of the Matariki Lantern Parade.

"We have wonderful volunteers who have helped grow the event from just 120 people in its first year to over 1000 last year, said Cashin.

"It's a celebration of community, people coming together, sharing their skills and creating a great community event," he said.

The people in the community were so great and fun it was easy to want to keep helping out, said volunteer Aimee Birmingham.


Birmingham and friend Caroline Quine have been volunteering for the past seven years and will continue to even though their children have now left Victory School for intermediate.

Birmingham and Quine had spent from 8.30am to around 5pm in the kitchen preparing the potato leek and pumpkin soups.

After seven years the recipes were now tried and true, Quine said.

"They're all in Aimee's head. It's a secret recipe," she joked.

New to the celebrations was Victory School principal Helen Taylor-Young who had only been at the school for three weeks.

"I think it's a wonderful celebration of the Maori new year," she said.

The students put on a special performance about the evolution of dance in New Zealand.

"They have been excited for weeks now but especially today," she said.

One of the reasons she applied for the position in the first place was the commitment the school displayed towards the community.

After the initial performance by the primary school at the school hall, participants walked up the Railway Reserve to the Beatson Rd space where there was another performance at sunset. They then walked back to the school guided by lanterns or torches.

Participants returned to a choir and waited for the kai that had taken all day to prepare.

The Nelson Mail