Matariki in the Zone 2023 – Shining Bright!

Covid forced us to rethink Matariki in the Zone in 2022, but this year we brought it all together for a stand-out, mid-winter celebration. 



Preparations began weeks ahead as organisers established who would create the Matariki star trail installations. Emphasizing unity within our community, we invited other local organizations to join in the creative process. Alongside stunning star-art from Richmond Community Garden, Avon-Ōtākaro Network, Avebury House, and We Are Richmond, we proudly featured unique contributions from Climate Action Campus, The Children’s Imagination Academy, and the artistic talents of Leah Fraser Henderson and Jen McBride.

On a bright Saturday 15th we were excited to welcome back many people who have helped bring this event to life over the years: Grenville and the incredible hāngī team from Tuahiwi Marae; Lisa Tui with her soulful musical ensemble; Dallas and his beautiful whakairo/carvings; Kayla’s mesmerising fire-dancing; Bee Awesome’s bee craft; RCG’s Little Shop; the Red Zone Rangers; the electoral commission; and the Shirley Library Van! Plus we had some new faces – Haven on Avon did the marshmallow-toasting this year, (with twig ‘skewers’); the White Room brought their mobile art bike; Joanna from Ōtautahi Urban Foraging made Tupuārangi birdfeeders out of pine cones; the Children’s Imagination Academy brought herbal tea and a popular face-painting friend! Bridget for We Are Richmond taught so many people to weave tī kōuka/cabbage tree leaves; Council’s Engagement Team were stoked to get over 200 responses to their consultation; and Sophie the Strawberry Fairy dazzled with her LED hula hoops! 

The Matariki star trail was lit up a few days before and after the event, allowing people to enjoy it through the end of the school holidays.  Two guided night walks with amateur astronomer John Dunlop attracted more than 70 folks in their winter woollies! And the mid-week City Libraries’ Matariki Story Times (with hot chocolate) was a hit too!

While beautifully crisp and sunny on the day, unusually damp weather in the preceding weeks inspired us to move everything up top, to the community garden, including a very slightly condensed star trail. This adaptation brought the added benefits of reducing the potential risks of crossing Eveleyn Couzins Ave, and a cosier, self-contained event space.

Another innovation was led by our sustainability goals: instead of only using reusable cups for the drinks, we extended our washable crockery and cutlery to all food and drink served at the event. And we encouraged people to bring their own dishes! It demanded more of volunteers and staff, but for us, it’s important to, a) avoid unnecessary waste, and b) encourage people to re-think single-use items. Event manager and local sustainability guru Morgane drove the change, “Thanks to our amazing volunteers, we cleaned and diverted soft plastics, froze chicken carcasses for nourishing broth, composted napkins and food scraps, and proudly embraced reusable crockery. The washing station was a game-changer!” Attendees overwhelmingly loved the idea. 

In fact, they overwhelmingly loved the event, maybe even as much as we did! Co-organiser Hayley Guglietta reckoned it was “the best Matariki in the Zone yet!” Numbers are hard to guess with so many entry and exit points, plus the day/night ‘shift’; but we estimate we served between 300 and 400 people hāngī, and that we had several hundred more with us enjoying the daylight activities. Richmond Community Garden made those delicious soups and fried bread; while mulled ‘wine’ and hot chocolate was served up by the Avebury team. 

Deepest thanks to our sponsors and supporters: Avon-Ōtākaro Network, Tuahiwi Marae, New World Stanmore, The Richmond Club, Trade Aid and Delta Trust; to all the incredible volunteers, facilitators, performers, and staff; and to all the lovely people who came along and made it such a great day. Mānawatia a Matariki!

“Such a mellow community vibe.” – Sara    “Makes Richmond a richer place to live!” – Rosanne

“A fabulous afternoon, wish we could have stayed later.” – Lynda    

“It was a really beautiful day.” – Matty

Some Numbers

Over 1000 people entertained and fed hāngī, soups, and drinks for koha.

More than 500 volunteer hours

Around 120 staff hours

Dozens of collaborators

More than $2200 in koha received on the day.

Close to zero waste.