The Railway Reserve will be lit up with lanterns next Wednesday night for the tenth annual Matariki Lantern Parade.
The celebrations kicked off early at the Victory Community Centre on Sunday where around 30 people gathered for a lantern-making workshop.
Children and parents made paper lanterns of all shapes and sizes which they will light up for the march up the Railway Reserve.
Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters.
It rises in mid-winter and signals the Māori New Year.
Event organiser Nicola Baré says it’s a milestone year for the lantern parade, which started with humble beginnings a decade ago.
“Now it’s something that the local community looks forward to every year.”
She is expecting over 1000 people to attend the celebrations, which start at 3.30pm with performances by Victory Primary School students.
Hot soup and rolls will be on offer before the lantern parade up the Railway Reserve, which will come to life with drummers, fire performers, artwork and the famous ‘neon zone’ which has been created by the YMCA Youth Group.
Afterwards, back at the community centre, there will be hangi, vegetable curry and a sausage sizzle to warm people up, followed by more entertainment.
Nicola says the event wouldn’t be possible with the dedication of the community and volunteers.
“Every year they make the event what it is,” she says. “It has grown a lot in the last ten years – every year it just gets bigger and better with more food and more music.
“All cultures are celebrated because we are such a diverse centre.”
Nicola says to bring a lantern or torch for the procession up the Railway Reserve and remember to wrap up warm.
“If the weather plays along, it would be fantastic and everyone will get to enjoy everything that’s happening.”
The Matariki Lantern Parade is on Wednesday, 27 June, 3:30pm – 8pm at the Victory Community Centre, 2 Totara St. Entry is $1 per person. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.