Reflections on Matariki

Leading up to the free whānau Matariki Concert being held at the Whirikoka Campus of Te Wananga O Aotearoa on Saturday, July 3 Merle Walker took the opportunity to talk to some of the artists who will be gracing the stage about the reason for the season, Matariki.

Merle asked the questions:
1. As a Māori artist and producer within the music industry, how important is it for you to be able to celebrate Matariki not only through your mahi, but also as an individual?

2. As of 2022 we get to move forward as a nation by implementing Matariki as an annual holiday. This will be the first traditional Māori event recognised with the mainstream calendar. What impact do you see this having within the Music Industry, positive or negative?


Tyna is a local artist, musician and producer who has been working in the music industry for years. This multi award-winning artist continues to create and produce his own music, while currently working at Te Wananga o Aotearoa as a Tutor and mentoring rangatahi when he has time.

“Matariki is an important time in my calendar for a number of reasons. Being Māori and from Ngāti Porou we celebrate our uniqueness and our knowledge or maturanga that makes us special.

“As an artist I find Matariki a great time to be creative and work on new projects. I tend to be busy at this time of the year as well with shows and projects so that’s cool”.

“I can see that there will be a lot of opportunities for Māori artists to exhibit their work regardless of medium, but most importantly it’s a chance to share our culture and normalize this important taonga for all New Zealanders”.


Philly Tarawa is the Program Director and a radio announcer on Turanga FM on a show called ‘The Switch Up’ from 10am to 2pm weekdays. He is also a part of local emerging band Supreme Brother Sound who will be releasing their first EP on July 14th and have a release party soon after on the 24th of July at The Dome.

“Matariki is a time of reflection and a time where whānau come together to celebrate the year that was and start working on a year that is about to grace us. It is hugely important for us to use this time to heal the Wairua, the Tinana and the Hinengaro going forward. These things are what are important to me and my whānau, moving forward.

“This is going to be huge not only for us as a nation but us as Māori people, for so many years we have put all our kaupapa Māori on the back burner and it’s about time our kaupapa get recognition. It’s about time we normalise this kaupapa so that we as Māori can use this space to uplift our culture and support all artists in all mediums, here in Aotearoa”.


While many of us will have encountered Tama as the CEO & Artistic Director of Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival, he is of course also an Award-winning Artist, Singer/Songwriter and Composer. What a treat to be able to experience Tama performing at the Matariki Concert on Saturday…

“Over the years Matariki has become an important time for artists to gather, to share new ideas, to recognise the ups and downs and to remember those who have passed on. There was a time when I knew absolutely nothing about Matariki so I feel fortunate there are those who have opened up this Mātauranga for us all to explore”.

“Mostly positive I think. The season of Matariki is one opportunity to celebrate who we are as Māori but it’s not the only season. Being Māori is a year round celebration. Musicians are often busy at this time as well as the summer so it’s a great way to map out times of the year for different kaupapa. I don’t know what impact it will have on the industry but I feel very positive about the growth of our Reo Māori artists and young performers coming through who see and embrace a totally different way of making their way in the world”.


Leon is a multi-talented guitarist, drummer, percussionist, songwriter and producer, and is a member of one of Aotearoa’s favourite reggae bands, KATCHAFIRE.

“Honestly, it’s only because I am a musician that I celebrate Matariki at all, otherwise it would probably just be another day!

“As an individual, I’m only starting to learn about my culture and language, my upbringing was very strict, and very religious. Also me and my wife have just started studying Te Reo Māori at Te Wananga o Aotearoa in Hamilton, we’re hoping to be able to converse with each other in the next 3 years.

“And of course, the more I learn the more I will understand the importance of Matariki.

“The fact that Matariki is going to be recognised as a public holiday in 2022 makes me so proud to be Māori. You know, people are gonna have a hard time stopping this movement, because we just won’t stop fighting until we have all that was taken from us, and until we have total equality.

We lead the world in the resurgence of culture & language. Damn it feels good to be Māori! Lol!”

“Any step forward with our language and culture is only good, because not only will it open the rest of the country to just how beautiful our language and culture is, but it will teach other countries in the world how to live as a nation by respecting each other’s language and culture”.

Images Supplied.
Interviews by Merle Walker

Planning for Housing

Why isn’t housing part of the Long Term Plan?

Tūranganui-a-kiwa has a housing crisis. The problem may be nation-wide, but it is amplified here. House prices locally have gone up faster in this latest boom than almost any other part of the country. There is basically nothing to rent. And of the one or two properties that might be available at any given moment on TradeMe, they are more than a rip off; the prices are unconscionable.

Sure, if you’re on the right side of the divide there’s no problem. You’ve just been given tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, without having to lift a finger. 

But if you’re on the wrong side of the divide, the prospect of owning a house just vanished. You might be sleeping at your relative’s house, staying in overcrowded accommodation, or have flatmates you don’t want. If you’re lucky enough to have a rental, your rental payments are almost certainly higher than your landlord’s mortgage repayments; so to top it all off, your landlord is almost effortlessly accumulating wealth while you may be working yourself into the ground and unable to even save for a deposit.

“If something about this story feels wrong, that’s because it is wrong”

We need to change it, but change isn’t going to happen by itself and in order for it to be effective it must be approached in a systematic way.

Housing Article image
Who has said Goodbye to their dreams of ever owning a home lately? How many have found themselves without a place to call home?

That is why we need to make sure that housing is part of our Long Term Plan in Tūranganui-a-kiwa.

So why isn’t housing in the Long Term Plan? I honestly don’t know. I’ve asked, but haven’t received a satisfactory answer. Maybe the Council isn’t aware that they can make a difference? Maybe it just seemed too hard? Maybe it’s not a top priority? Maybe it’s not clear how to fix the problem? Maybe the infrastructure costs to facilitate more housing seem too high? Maybe the Council feels that it’s the Central Government’s responsibility to fix such things? 

It doesn’t really matter what the reason is. The reality is that there are a great number of people in Te Tairāwhiti – often people who don’t have a voice – who lack quality affordable housing, and this is a major issue affecting their lives. For many, remedying their housing situation is not an issue they can solve by themselves. For many more, the socioeconomic system they are entangled in prevents and disempowers them from doing so. 

“To be clear, I’m not just talking about people in the bottom 10%, or people who are homeless, or people who are in social housing. I’m talking about people who work full time and earn the median annual salary. I’m talking about your “average” person too”.

The housing crisis is affecting a large cross-section of our community, and it touches one of our most fundamental human rights – the right to adequate housing that ensures the wellbeing and upholds the dignity of every person.

If housing is an issue affecting so many of us in this region, surely we have to include it in our Long Term Plan. We need to look at how we can move towards quality affordable housing. To overlook it, for whatever reason, is an injustice to our community. Of course the Central Government must work on the issue at the same time, but to ignore the agency of Local Council and its responsibility to look after its community will only lead to the perpetuation of growing inequalities. For some, this road will end in hospital, having been afflicted with health issues arising from inadequate shelter; others will gravitate towards gangs as a means to try to regain control over their lives and better their personal circumstances. 

While the solution to our housing problem isn’t solely within the Council’s domain, the remedy will require action from the Central Government all the way through to the individual. There are plenty of steps our Council can take towards affordable quality housing.

As a start let’s put housing on the agenda and include it in the Long Term Plan. Then let’s also make it part of a short term plan. After that, the Council can look at its planning rules and policies, identify which ones slow down the development of housing, and eliminate them. It’s an absolute pain to develop housing, especially if you want to do anything different. What’s the problem with apartments? What’s the big deal with tiny houses? Why can’t we go ahead and convert the garage if we use professionals?

“We need to stop making it illegal to easily improve the housing situation”.

And while we are here let’s look at what sort of things will encourage more housing to be built, especially that which will increase density. And then let’s do it. We live in a country with some of the lowest density in the world; in that country, we live in a city with even lower density. Just because people aren’t used to change doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. What is worse, people sleeping in apartments or cars? Studios or emergency housing? My wife and I lived in a small one-bedroom apartment for four years, and it was great. There’s nothing wrong with a three, four, five story building with a number of dwellings (remember it’s not density that creates slums, it’s poverty. Is New York City one massive slum?) 

If infrastructure is what’s holding housing up, then fix it. Don’t tell me that some people can’t have a house because we don’t know how to fund a sewage pipe. Find a way. Crowdfund if you have to. 

Housing has a massive influence on the quality of people’s lives, and the current system is growing inequalities between those that have it and those that don’t. Within this context, Māori and Pasifika populations are almost always dealt the bad hand. The situation as it stands continues to sustain and promote inadequate housing for Māori and Pasifika and is a clear example of systemic racism that must be uprooted. 

If we are going to make a difference to our housing crisis, we have to make housing a priority. We can’t ignore it. The problem is only going to get worse if we sit on our hands. So let’s put it on the agenda, make it part of the plan, make some changes and move forward.

By Zane Sabour
Photograph Sarah Cleave | Model Alex Andrews
This story was written with the support of Gizzy Local.

Check out for information about Zane & his research into affordable housing in Aotearoa.


Anthonie Tonnon is realising a long-held ambition in Te Tairāwhiti on November 1st. Not only is he bringing his Rail Land show to the region – with the help of Arts on Tour and InCahoots, he is inviting an audience to join him and travel by train from Gisborne Station to Te Whare Maumahara mo Ngā Hoea O Te Muriwai – the hall at Te Muriwai marae.

A journey of the mind, through song and story about New Zealand’s on-and-off again love affair with its passenger railway system, Tonnon has taken Rail Land around Aotearoa twice, and this year will take the show beyond the main centres to 21 towns.

In the show, Tonnon weaves his current, past and future songs together with new custom material written for Rail Land – synthesizer soundscapes with spoken word narratives on topics like the closure of the Blue Streak Railcar, the 90s revival of the Silver Fern Carriages, or how to take the great Capital Connection train from Palmerston North to Wellington – a train Tonnon calls ‘the last of its kind.’

But like the space-themed visual spectacle A Synthesized Universe, which Tonnon performed for Te Tairawhiti Arts Festival last year, Rail Land has an immersive element too. This time it’s in the form of a real, communal journey rather than a virtual one. Where possible, Rail Land aims to get the entire audience to an extraordinary venue by public transport rail. Where no such transport exists, the goal of Rail Land is to make it exist, if only for one day. 

The first place Tonnon achieved this was his hometown of Dunedin – a city where suburban trains ran until 1982. In 2018 and 2019, Tonnon chartered a Dunedin Railways train from Dunedin Station to a hall in the seaside settlement of Waitati.

‘The goal of Rail Land is to do something practical and joyous – while the story of rail in Aotearoa is often quite tragic, I didn’t want to just dwell on those tragedies, and I wanted to do something beyond just talking. I realised that if we could get enough people to go along with me, we could actually bring a train into existence in the present moment. Taking a train together with people in Dunedin to get to a show, something most of us haven’t done in our lifetime, was really euphoric – I think it expanded everyone’s sense of possibility.’

But chartering trains is no easy feat – fees to use the lines can be extraordinarily prohibitive, and rail operators outside the main centres have been under strain, even before Covid. This year, Dunedin Railways was mothballed during the first lockdown. Responding to the difficulties, Tonnon has expanded this year’s tour to include heritage buses and ferries in Dunedin, and is celebrating bus systems in towns like Queenstown which he says has shown the power of improving public transport, even if only on humble rubber wheels. 

Tonnon says that in the places where freight trains don’t run, like the Weka Pass Railway in Canterbury, there can actually be more possibility for passengers “Because Gisborne’s line is currently disconnected from the main system, and because I’d seen Gisborne City Vintage Railway was doing regular trips, I thought it might just be possible here.” When performing at Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival last year,  he asked In Cahoots’ Melody Craw if she thought she could help him pull it off. Nine months later, I got an email from her that said “here in Te Tairāwhiti everything is possible.” 

Tonnon says that while the show is just the second on this year’s Rail Land tour, it’s the most ambitious journey planned on the tour. ‘Melody’s right – perhaps anything is possible here.’

Sunday November 1, Te Tairāwhiti / Gisborne – Te Whare Maumahara mo Ngā Hoea O Te Muriwai, 3pm Get your tickets here

* Travel to Muriwai by Vintage Train and experience Rail Land in Te Whare Maumahara.Train leaves at 3pm and returns approx. 6.45pm


Amy Moore is happily ensconced in her new creative space, which she describes as her ‘saving grace’.

Two years ago with her partner at her side Amy Moore embarked on the scariest thing she’d ever done… going on reality (not really reality) TV for 3 months. She knew that it would either make her or break her, and as it so happened, it did both.

Amy talks about how it broke her physically and even more so mentally, getting inside her head and breeding fear. She began to fear other peoples’ opinions, public gatherings, social media.. she didn’t leave her own home for about 6 weeks after getting back, her ‘own personal lockdown’.

After time though and with a little help from her friends, she made her way back to a place where she found enough belief in herself to do something different with her life; something meaningful that brought her enjoyment. 

Being creative has always been a part of Amy’s life and finding a physical space in which to do that was, as she describes it, her ‘saving grace’.

Claiming the front of a commercial property occupied by her partner Stu and her Dad, a few walls were removed, a splash of colour added – mustard of course – and The WorkShop was born.  Although it was pretty much ready to roll earlier this year, lockdown proved in some ways a blessing, giving Amy time to psych herself into actually physically opening the doors to the public.

The WorkShop’s shelves are filled with stylish crafts, good smells and vintage finds..

Since opening those doors a few months ago now, the Workshop has blossomed and morphed as any truly creative space does.  The beautiful little shop with its hint of tasteful Indonesian tattoo parlour, filled with stylish crafts, good smells and vintage finds, was turned into a workshop space over the school holidays, where participating kids turned their hands to weaving. Next on the shapeshifting agenda is an indoor winter market for local artisans in the adjoining shed, which is taking place this Saturday 25 July, from 11am – 4pm. 

Amy is clear that the WorkShop is not only a creative space for herself, but for others as well. A place to pick up a handmade gift or vintage treasure, a place to sit and flick through books to derive a little inspiration for your home or a place to just pop in for a cuppa and to soak up a little inspiration for you too to do more of the things that you love.

Don’t miss the opportunity to tap into a whole lot of local craftiness and some much-needed mid-winter colour and inspiration – The Workshop, 73 Carnarvon Street, next to Bollywood.

Story by Amy Moore and Sarah Cleave


As hunters we just wanted to give back. Over our time hunting and fishing the Upper Waioeka we have seen Whio numbers plummet to the point where we thought we would lose these comical little creatures from the area’s rivers all together.

We managed to pull together a group of like-minded backcountry individuals by leaving notes in local hut books and writing in hunting magazines asking for help. The reply was deafening, turns out hunters really do care about the environments they hunt in and in particular the Waioeka. We now have volunteers from as far away as the South Island, Wellington, Tauranga and Gisborne all signing up to help. 

Luckily Game Gear came to the party and decided to back the project financially. It’s somewhere the owner has hunted for years and the idea of conservation had been on his mind for some time. He just needed an ethical way to go about it.

We have been inundated with volunteers. The local Enviroschools Wai Restoration Programme helped us to lay out 3.5km of accessible trapline in just one afternoon. It’s incredible to see such a program producing such skilled conservationists. If I had the means, I’d employ these students tomorrow but told them they need to finish school first. Everyone is keen to get involved from retirees to school groups. The Goodnature A24 stoat traps we are using only need to be checked twice a year and two weekends is something our busy volunteer force is happy to commit to. 

Currently we have 17km of trapline comprising of 170 odd traps under protection, with a plan to lay out another 9km in August. There’s still a lot of available river habitat and plenty of territories for juvenile Whio to move into.

Seeing some incredible early success with multiple kills under most traps and birds paired up ready to produce their first clutch of chicks in a long time this season, we are looking to expand the project. Theres still some prime Whio habitat that needs protecting and we have the volunteers to do it. 

We just need local businesses to get involved and support this groundbreaking project for the region with sponsorship of traps, lures and gas. It’s a great story to tell and makes for some pretty exciting staff trips.

For a long time hunters have been seen as the antithesis of conservation but we are here to say that’s simply not the case. We care about the environment and are giving back just as much if not more than any other backcountry user group and are having a lot of fun doing it.

If you’re keen to get involved with the Eastern Whio Link contact Sam Gibson on 0277750016 or @sam_the_trap_man on instagram.

Words & Photograph by Sam Gibson