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Fire on the water for Matariki 2018

Fire meets water on the Wellington waterfront in a range of free winter events to mark Matariki ki Pōneke, the Māori New Year.

On Thursday 21 June, the third annual series of Lōemis events will culminate with a Solstice Ritual, joining a 26,000 year cycle that began in neolithic times based around the winter solstice.

At 5.30pm, the large sculpture Seraphina, which has been on display at the Wellington Central Library since 6 June, with Wellingtonians encouraged to feed its eggs and belly with their deepest thoughts, will reach the end of its life cycle.

It will be carried by a procession, accompanied by a live orchestra, across Civic Square to The Whairepo Lagoon, where it will be floated out and set on fire around 5.50pm. The ritual concludes at 6:30pm.

On Friday 29 June from 6pm to 10pm, new Council event Ahi Kā will take place on Odlin’s Plaza and the Whairepo Lagoon, celebrating renewal and belonging.

The evening will feature some of the nation’s finest Māori performers and storytellers, poi workshops, and Streams of Light – a parade featuring hand-made light sculptures of creatures from the land and sea.

Whairepo lagoon will be transformed into a fiery reflection of the Seven Sisters Matariki constellation (the Pleiades), and there will be a midwinter bonfire.

Food will include a hangi, and the opportunity to toast marshmallows with tamariki around the fires.

Matariki celebrations will conclude on Saturday 7 July from 6.30pm with the Wellington Sky Show at the Wellington waterfront. This new annual event replaces November’s Guy Fawkes fireworks, and will see Wellington harbour lit up with a spectacular display.

Postponement date for Ahi Kā is Saturday 30 June.

Postponement date for the Wellington Sky Show is Sunday 8 July.

Learn more about other Lōemis events here.

Learn more about Matariki ki Pōneke on the Wellington City Council website.

Photo of Lōemis Ritual 2017 by Scott Halvorsen