Matariki ball in Sydney unites Māori and Pākehā

8:08 am on 15 July 2015

A Matariki ball in Sydney has been credited with uniting Māori and New Zealand Pākehā businesses for the first time in raising funds for a Māori charity organisation.

Matariki is the name for the cluster of stars known as the Pleiades. When it rises in the north-eastern skies in late May or early June, it signals to Māori that the New Year will begin.

Matariki is the name for the stars also known as the Pleiades (pictured). Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Filip Lolić

The event was held last Friday with proceeds going to The Koha Shed Australia, which helps the homeless and victims of domestic abuse, particularly Māori.

It was also held for New Zealanders living there to celebrate the Māori New Year.

The co-ordinator of Australia's Māori Business Network, Brent Reihana, said this year's event was significant for a number of reasons.

"It's the first time that I know of and that my father knows of that our New Zealand businesses and our New Zealand component has come together with our Māori component and have one combined celebration," Mr Reihana, of Ngāpuhi descent, said.

"Usually in the past not a word of Māori was uttered and this time a Pākehā fellow, of Scottish descent, opened with a mihi (Māori greeting speech) followed by a performance from a kapa haka group - and it was for a charity that predominantly looks after Māori."

The Koha Shed Australia receives on average 28 requests a day for help.

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