In New Zealand it has become popular to celebrate Matariki: it’s the time when the Pleidedes are visible in this part of the world and marks what the rest of us have come to call the Maori new year.
It is also the time when we remember the signing of te Tiriti o Waitangi in this area. The time when local iwi, Ngati Toa Rangatira signed the Treaty on a ship off the coast of Mana Island. We used to walk up the local puke (hill) called Whitireia, which means “light of day” – Whiti te ra. We used to get there so that when dawn broke we were ready to welcome it in with karakia and at times haka.
So it was both wonderful, and a relief, yesterday to join staff at Whitireia Polytechnic inside the library and to watch the hill as dawn broke. It was also lovely to hear elder, kaumatua and friend to many of us, Turoa Royal give the speech for the day. He wandered around the history of the Treaty and gave his own impression on how things are: better than they were but with room for improvement.
This week is also the week that our friend Krysia died. Not passed away, on or over. Died.
She went to Malaysia, had her stomach stappled and died. Four years ago. So today we went to her unveiling. Stood on the damp ground and remembered her. Cried when her cousin sang, in te reo Maori “Over the rainbow.”
And it was wonderful to see her daughter last week, taking on the old Krysia style and organising a Matariki festival at Whitireia.
Whiti te ra.