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5pm Saturday 29 June. Te Matau a Maui
Hawke’s Bay wide event
Next to the National Aquarium,
Marine Parade, Napier. 

Mānawa mai a te putanga o Matariki.

Mānawa mai a te ariki o te rangi.

Mānawa mai a te mātahi o te tau

Hail the rise of Matariki

Hail the lord of the sky

Hail the New Year


Matariki is the Māori tradition that marks the rising of the star cluster Matariki Pleiades. Matariki signals the start of the Māori new year and is a time of commemorating the passing of loved ones, making plans for the upcoming year, feastings, celebrating and giving thanks for the harvest.

The entire Napier Hastings shoreline will be set on fire on Saturday 29 June. There will be beacon of fires along Matau a Maui.


We will be on Marine Parade, next to the National Aquarium at the Manga Pacific – Te Toka Tu Moana fountain. Come along and float a waka lantern with a personal message of remembrance or healing, and storytelling around fires.   

Called Matariki Mahuika/Home Fires, the project has won the OK from Fire and Emergency New Zealand and local councils.

It's a DIY event in all respects with people encouraged to go to the beach and either join with others or light their own fire so there are beacon fires around the sweep of the Bay from Cape Kidnappers to Tangoio.

“We would have liked to light up the coast right around to Mahia but ironically, there is too much wood on the northern Hawke's Bay beaches for that to be safe this year,” said event organiser Neill Gordon.

“Cyclone Gabrielle has gifted us an excess of driftwood and one of the rationales for the project is that the wood is likely to be set on fire at Guy Fawkes, New Year or some other occasion and it makes more sense to do this in July at a time of low-fire risk.

“It is a ‘people-powered’ DIY kind of event, so not a case of ‘organised’ or ’staffed’ fires, but rather encouraging people to head to the beach from 5pm on July 15, take their fish and chips, marshmallows, guitar . . . light their fire, welcome people in and put their fire out before they go.”

People are encouraged to register their intention to take part by emailing so they can be advised on best practice and potentially alerted to a postponement - in consultation with FENZ - if weather was adverse. 

“The event is really not so much about the fires themselves as it is the people standing around them: Matariki hunga nui - Matariki, the gatherer of people. It's a real opportunity for people to gather up some friends, colleagues, whanau, head to their favourite spot at the beach and, while doing their own thing, be part of something much larger – a community-wide celebration.”

People are invited to share photos of the night to social media sites including the Matariki Mahuika Facebook page.

Organised in conjunction with Ngati Kahungunu events manager Te Rangi Huata, the night is named after Mahuika, the Goddess of fire.

“I'm 100 percent behind this and am certain it will capture people's imaginations,” Mr Huata said. “It is a perfect way to bring people together to celebrate Matariki.”

Gordon and Huata believe the idea is likely to catch on not only in Hawke's Bay but be adopted nationwide as a cornerstone event of annual Matariki celebrations.

Key concepts for Matariki Mahuika/Home Fires are manaakitanga - hospitality, kindness and generosity – and kaitiakitanga – taking care of the environment.

“That means inviting people in to share the warmth of your fire, sharing kai, looking after your fire the whole time and putting it out before you go,” Gordon says.

“Some folk might like to be fire-keepers and stay with their fire until it burns out but we suggest taking several buckets with you and – while being careful near the water – use seawater to extinguish your fire.

“It's not a good idea to build too large a fire or include large logs because it is your responsibility to put that fire out.”

Lighting up the Napier Hastings beaches was not a new idea, Gordon said.

“It's what people traditionally do at Guy Fawkes and it's a beautiful sight – a string of fires right along Marine Parade and elsewhere and small groups enjoying themselves.

“Those November nights can be a bit dicey with fireworks shooting off all over the place and the drier landscape. And of course in November its not dark until its too late for young kids. With sunset in July about 5pm, it's dark when littlies are still awake. Those factors we think help set up Matariki Mahuika as a safer family friendly event and we hope people embrace that spirit.

“Anybody who has ever seen the Napier Hastings shoreline dotted with Guy Fawkes bonfires knows what a beautiful spectacle it is and we believe Matariki Mahuika will light up the night better than ever before.”

FENZ Hawke’s Bay Community Risk Manager Nigel Hall said “we can’t stop people burning in an open season and want people to be able to enjoy this culturally significant event in a safe way.”

Anyone considering lighting a fire should consult, he said.

All the advice and safety information is on that website but basic precautions include checking forecasted winds will not exceed 20 km/hr for the duration of the burn, not lighting more than you can manage or extinguish, ensuring material to be burnt is at least 10 metres away from other combustible material, creating a non-combustible fire break a minimum of 5 metres around your bonfire, the fire being completely extinguished once completed and wearing appropriate clothing - wear natural materials such as wool or cotton because synthetic materials can melt causing significant injuries.

“And should the burn escape, call 111 immediately,” Mr Hall said.


To register your interest email

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