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Matariki 2022: Astronomer hopes celebration will focus on whānau, not binge-drinking

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Professor Rangi Matamua is hoping Kiwis enjoy Matariki and do not make it a binge drinking day. Photo / Supplied

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Renowned Māori astronomer Professor Rangi Matamua says people celebrating Matariki should remember its core values and hopes that the new public holiday doesn’t encourage a binge-drinking tradition.

“I hope it doesn’t turn into St Patrick’s Day and become an excuse for people to only get drunk. However, I think we need to be careful with telling people what they can and can’t do; If people enjoy a wine or a beer and that’s part of their celebration, I have no issue with that,” Matamua told the NZ Herald.

With recent discussions around Matariki being commercialised, there is concern that Aotearoa will forget its true meaning, Matamua said. He chairs the Matariki Advisory Group which has provided advice to the Government on the formation of New Zealand’s newest public holiday.

“I do hope that the focus will be on celebrating it in a family-orientated, healthy way. I hope that becomes the norm.”

Associate Professor of Business at the University of Auckland, Mike Lee, has been critical about battling the commercialisation of Matariki. He says St Patrick’s Day went from celebrating Irish culture to a holiday focused on getting drunk.

He hopes that Matariki will be different and the focus will be reflecting and connecting and not about getting drunk and “doing a haka in the mall”.

“What we can be sure of is that when you give people a holiday, alcohol will be involved. Whether it’ll be a full-blown St Patrick’s Day or not, we’ll just have to wait and see,” Lee said.

Vinnie Pivac, director of Zane Grey’s Restaurant and Bar in Paihia, said to avoid Matariki becoming a holiday known for binge drinking, then the focus needs to be on whānau.

“As long as the organisers keep it family orientated and cultural, I don’t think alcohol would come into it too much.”

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