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Celebrating kaumātua: Tūrangawaewae Marae hosts spectacular Matariki Ball

Maioha Panapa

A touch of glamour was brought to the lives of Tainui elders.

An annual Matariki kaumātua ball at Tūrangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia has given local elders an opportunity to leave their black tangihanga attire at home.

This is the first time the ball, last Saturday, has been held at the marae in Ngāruawāhia since its inception in 2018.

Poppy Ranga is one of the elders representing her sub-tribe of Ngāti Mahuta, said she had been excited and always looked forward to the event.

“For me, they [the iwi] want to celebrate that you’re at that stage in your life where you’re being acknowledged as a kaumātua, you may not feel it but others are saying you deserve it. So that’s what it means to me.”

Others said they were keen to “swap the black tangihanga clothes for a night to dress up” and “just being together at a social event that has a band is a good reason to go out!”.

The Matariki kaumātua ball is an event run by the local iwi organisation Waikato-Tainui as a way to reconnect with their elders in the region for one night.

Event manager Hinga Whiu says the ball gives elders an opportunity to get together with their peers at an occasion that is dedicated to them.

“This is a time of Matariki, so it’s a time of celebration. This event is really important. This is our way to celebrate our kaumātua for everything they do on the marae.”

Tūrangawaewae Marae chairman Hinerangi Raumati hopes the ball continues to be held in familiar spaces for their elders.

“We’d love to continue hosting it. Taking the opportunity to celebrate our kaumātua across the rohe, because they all come to Tūrangawaewae and play a role.

“So us being able to host them and watch them have a cool night is a part of our way to say thank you for the very hard mahi they do day in and day out going to tangi, attending hui with us, and just being there for us.”

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