Sarah Skinner, Senior Campaign Manager

I’m new to Matariki and understanding what it means for me and why it’s important for Aotearoa, New Zealand. But I want to understand it in a more deep and meaningful way.

We as New Zealanders need to be proud of our Māori heritage, and celebrate it more. It underpins who we are and it makes us uniquely us, even if you are not of Māori descent. We should not need to ask ourselves ‘what does Matariki actually mean?’ We should intrinsically know what it means.

 

When they announced Matariki was going to be a holiday, I thought to myself “it’s about time”. We should be providing more opportunities for the indigenous people of this country to celebrate the moments that are important to them and their culture. We have a long way to go but I’m seeing more and more te reo integrated into our everyday lives. The language is beautiful, and importantly, all kids expect to hear and read it now. I’m glad people are leaning into it, and not shying away just because some folk are stuck in the ‘olden days’.

Through the years I think we’ve lost our way a wee bit and it’s important for us to reconnect. There’s so much richness in Māori and also Pasifika culture. The fostering of the family unit being one example that I gravitate towards. I love the philosophy of ‘whānau’. Yes, there are blood relatives but it’s bigger than that. Everyone together is part of something bigger. I think that is a really beautiful way to live your life.

Everyone has a role to play, everyone adds something to this wonderful tapestry of life. Let’s plug the gaps in the places that we don’t have knowledge.

 

I have always been intrigued by different cultures and I like to travel. My nana is Singaporean, my grandfather is English and they met in the war. I used to sit by Nana’s chair and listen to stories. My favourite was about how they got together. My grandfather took Nana back to England from Singapore and they started a life there. They had two children and then brought them out on a boat to New Zealand. What she said to me was “you know Sarah, if you want New Zealand to be your home that is wonderful, but you have to go and see what the world has to offer.”

I have always had a thirst to understand the world. People do things differently, and that’s great and it should be embraced. I hope that more people can appreciate that every culture, every gender, just everyone, has so much to offer. Having that diversity of thought actually makes things richer because nobody has all of the answers, so we prosper when we share. Let’s harness the pride that we feel when we hear a haka overseas, or someone says “kia ora” and bring it back home. Everyone has a role to play, everyone adds something to this wonderful tapestry of life. Let’s plug the gaps in the places that we don’t have knowledge.

I know that it’s my role now not only to keep learning about other cultures but also explore my Māori heritage from my mother’s side, that unfortunately was not a huge part of my life. I am Ngati Awa and proud of it. Some people may not feel that deeper emotional part of literally being Māori, but what I feel is very beautiful is the inclusively from the culture that has prevailed. Going back to the word ‘whānau’, it is that all-encompassing community that’s created, everyone is welcome. Everyone is taken on the journey, everyone is there to celebrate together.