Out of the darkness
– Matariki at Lyttelton Lights Festival

Te Ahikomau kapa haka rocking the stage.

Te Ahikomau kapa haka rocking the stage.

Nau mai e ngā karere ō Matariki tau hou.
Tēnā tātou katoa, nga mihi o te tau hou.

This weekend I had the opportunity to take part in the annual lights festival in Lyttelton, which happened to co-incide with Matariki, the beginning of the Maori new year. Even though the bite of the cold could be felt, there was a certain warmth of atmosphere that can only come from a crowd of like-minded people getting together to celebrate the old and the new.

Stalls lined the main street in Lyttelton offering food and drink and the majority of them were brightly decorated with coloured lights. The night featured performances from various artists and musicians including the local kapahaka group Te Ahikaaroa ki Rapaki who were among the first performers to grace the stage to a very happy and receptive crowd. Later on were the belly dancers who must have been freezing as they were clad in next to nothing.

The main attraction was the fireworks display at the halfway point of the night. It delivered an uninterrupted series of bright lights and loud bangs preceded by music from the Pā Kids band (rangatahi from Rapaki). As the show went on you could see looks of genuine enjoyment from both the children and parents in the crowd.

Lyttelton Festival of Lights has captured the spirit of not only the community of Lyttelton but the wider communities of Bank Peninsula and created a positive link between the traditions of the tangata whenua and new traditions formed by the Lyttelton community.