Korowai: Snells Beach


There is no culture without language. Our local libraries understand this, and some exceptional work is done in them by passionate and motivated people. They genuinely care about literature and culture – and about bringing them to our communities. Matariki, Maori Language Week, and Kia Maia te Whai (Dare to Explore) are regional library events that Mahurangi East Library do their best to get behind. Anne Dickson (Mahurangi East Library Manager) led the way by enrolling in the te reo class taught by Mahurangi College kaiako (teacher) Michael Winiana, along with Warkworth Librarian Lisa Outwin.

Mahurangi East library have celebrated Matariki with gusto for the last three years. Colouring competitions, storytimes, raranga, stick games, baking and ‘he aha te tae o te jellybean?’ (what colour is the jellybean?) all support the use of te reo Maori.

Over the recent weeks of Matariki, Mahurangi East Library put together a programme of Maori language that started small but snowballed into a huge and beautiful thing. Local schools, preschools and library visitors all took part.

Senior librarian Fleur Coleman facilitated a project that enabled school seniors to spend time with Te Kauri, a fluent Maori speaker, while juniors enjoyed Matariki stories and created colourful feathers that would become part of an exceptional artwork: a korowai, or cloak.

“The point of the community korowai (cloak) was to spread a feeling of community connectedness as known in te ao Maori (the Maori world) as kotahitanga or unity,” says Fleur. “Auckland Libraries work hard to promote inclusiveness of all cultures but to see Maori language promoted during these regional events is very satisfying.”

The intention was to create one korowai but more and more children got involved until there were nearly 1,000 feathers. Seven cloaks were made in the end to represent each of the stars in the Matariki Cluster. Junction agrees: the end result is tino ataahua (very beautiful).