✨Matariki in the Zone 2024✨ took place on a stunning winter afternoon and evening on Saturday, 29 June, blessed by the weather gods.

In the days leading up to the event, the excitement was palpable. Local groups came together to create the star trail, with additional beautiful decorations from The White Room, Climate Action Campus, Stitch-o-Mat, Hōhepa, and artist Leah Fraser Henderson. Volunteers and staff from Richmond Community Garden (RCG), Avon-Ōtākaro Network (AvON), and Avebury House worked tirelessly to set everything up. We even worried if there would be enough sun for the solar lights!
Saturday morning began with the crew from Tuahiwi Marae arriving to prepare the hāngī in the pre-dug pit, signaling the start of the day’s activities. Volunteers were busy setting up tables and chairs, gazebos, and cup & cutlery stations, arranging power and heating, and coordinating arrivals. RCG volunteers ferried their soup to serving tables in warmers. Fried bread was about to get underway, Avebury volunteers made hot chocolate donated by Trade Aid with oat milk donated by Delta Trust, and the Richmond Club joined us, providing mulled ‘not-wine’ and two lovely volunteers to make and serve it!

The garden soon buzzed with people, sunshine, and activities. Envirokids led star-making, Haven on Avon toasted marshmallows, The Green Lab hosted weaving, and Bee Awesome and AvON organized a star-based scavenger hunt and seed bomb target practice. The White Room brought their fabulous art cart, Shirley Village kapa haka group Te Hapori Oraka made poi, and Shirley Library entertained with their story-telling van and bubble machines. Delta Community Trust, always supportive, supplied oat milk, bread, veggies, and extra pots, collected 93 items of non-perishable goods, which went straight into parcels the next day, highlighting the immediate need. Their popular raffle raised $372.20, all used to purchase more food. The council’s Red Zone Rangers invited people to plant Hunangāmoho or wind grass, and Para Kore engaged in wānanga ikura/menstrual cycle talks.

Peter Beck announced entertainment from the talented Star Jam, the gorgeous Pareawa Banks Ave kapa haka group, an interactive poi performance from Shirley’s Te Hapori Te Oraka kapa haka group, and beautiful waiata led by red zone ranger Sarah Mankelow.

As evening approached, activities gave way to the hāngī queue. Lisa Tui and her band played into the night, while firespinner Sophie put on a dazzling display. An estimated 600+ people moved through the twin serving stations quicker than you’d think, gathering around fire drums to eat and chat or wandering through the star trail, leaving New Year’s wishes on the Hiwa-i-te-Rangi tree. The atmosphere was relaxed, the weather mild and still—it was an incredible day.

Reflecting on the event, Hayley Guglietta from AvON and RCG shared, “Matariki in the Zone is such a cool grassroots event. It’s delivered with an enormous amount of collaboration from our community organizations and volunteers, focusing on creating a magical day for our community to share kai, learn about Matariki, and just be together during a special time of the year.” RCG coordinator Morgane felt immense pride in the community effort, and everyone experienced that mix of exhaustion and exhilaration when hard work paid off.

We believe we fed about 1000 people on the day, all on crockery, creating minimal waste—a fantastic start to Plastic-Free July. We had no food left over!

We love hosting events, but Matariki holds a special place in our hearts.

Delta Community Trust perfectly captured the spirit of the day: “Such great collaboration is taking place in our community, and the appetite and enthusiasm for it plays a huge part in building our connectivity and resilience.”

P.S. Just to let you know, most of this wording was beautifully crafted by Tanya from Avebury House.

Māwanatia a Matariki!