Support for new winter festivals in lower South Island Te Waipounamu

Economic and Regional Development Tourism

Two new winter festivals in the lower South Island are getting government backing through an annual fund that supports start-up events to become internationally significant.

The festivals have successfully applied to the Creative and Cultural Events Incubator, a fund administered by MBIE. It is open to applications from fledgling events that want to scale up, and helps eligible events to become financially self-sustainable.

Economic Development and Tourism Minister Stuart Nash says government support for the events will lift the profile of Māori arts and culture associated with Matariki, or the Māori New Year in Te Waipounamu, South Island.

“The Matariki Mackenzie festival will be held in the Mackenzie District, while Feast Matariki will occur at multiple sites across the lower South Island from Wairewa on Banks Peninsula, to Awarua at Bluff, and places in between,” said Stuart Nash.

“As we prepare to welcome back international visitors and thousands of returning Kiwis, it is exciting to see new events develop to attract visitors, and give locals another reason to get out and enjoy their own back yard.

Matariki Mackenzie is a brand new, multi-day event co-designed with local mana whenua. It will build on the Mackenzie region’s status as the world’s largest Dark Sky Reserve to celebrate the Māori New Year. 

“It will receive seed funding of $100,000, linked to further work on a governance structure and development of the event itself. Matariki Mackenzie is also potentially eligible for further funding of up to $100,000 per year for two further years.

Feast Matariki is an annual, two-week event that is only in its third year. The food festival is developed by Ngāi Tahu and Eat NZ, and arranged around marae-based events and wānanga. It connects original food stories of Aotearoa with local landscapes and people. 

Feast Matariki will receive initial development funding of $75,000 and may also be eligible for further funding of up to $100,000 per year for two further years. Event organisers have a vision to develop the event into a nationwide celebration of food around Matariki.

“They already have plans for events at Otakau/Otago Peninsula, Karitane, Moeraki and Arowhenua/Temuka, as well as Wairewa and Awarua. Other sites are likely to be added as the event progresses.

Matariki Mackenzie and Feast Matariki will act as further drawcards for visitors to districts that have been hard hit by the absence of international visitors. There is already much to celebrate in these regions and Matariki festivals add a unique and special extra layer.

“I congratulate those behind these Matariki festivals and hope to see them grow to become major events of international significance,” said Stuart Nash.

“Legislation to establish a public holiday to celebrate Matariki – Te Kāhui o Matariki Public Holiday Bill - is currently going through Parliament, and I look forward to it being passed into law in the very near future,” said Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan.

“The inaugural Matariki public holiday on 24 June is an opportunity for people across Aotearoa New Zealand to celebrate together, and for Māori around the country to share their traditions, history and stories with the rest of Aotearoa. Matariki will be our first public holiday that explicitly recognises Te Ao Māori,” Kiri Allan said.

The Creative and Cultural Events Incubator supports new and existing events that have a focus on Māori and Pasifika arts and culture. Previous recipients have included the Pasifika Festival in Auckland and the Māoriland Film Festival at Ōtaki.

More information about the Events Incubator can be found on the Major Events website.

Te Arawhiti – the Office for Māori Crown Relations has also recently announced a new Matariki fund, Matariki Ahunga Nui. It supports events and resources for the regeneration and celebration of the mātauranga Māori underpinning Matariki.  See for information.