Hollywood actor Cliff Curtis and All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder were honoured at the inaugural Matariki awards – a celebration of Māori talent and achievements.
With the stars of Matariki now shining, the cluster – also known as the Pleiades – signals to Māori that a New Year has begun.
And like those shining stars, some of Māoridom’s stars of the arts, business, language, health, education and sports shone and were acknowledged at the ceremony at Auckland’s War Memorial Museum.
The supreme award, Te Tohu Tiketike o Matariki, went to one of New Zealand’s biggest stars, Māori actor Cliff Curtis.
The actor, who is working on television series Fear the Walking Dead in Mexico, said the award was everybody’s.
“It’s not just a personal achievement, it’s a cultural achievement that we all celebrate these things.
“I really like that we’re organising around celebrating who we are and elevating our expectations of ourselves – which is really awesome.”
Curtis has had numerous roles in Hollywood productions and is also working working on new local projects.
“I’m working at developing projects back here at home to keep looking for those stories that are going to help tell our unique stories to ourselves, and that can travel internationally as well.”
Ezekiel Raui, 18, won the young achievers award for his work in supporting youth mental health issues, especially relating to suicide.
“Working alongside as many youth to develop different ways to approach whakamomori and how to talk about it so it doesn’t become something swept under the carpet.”
His work has taken him to the White House where he meet US President Barack Obama and he has many goals in his future.
“In a lot of the mahi that I do I see there is a massive gap between a lot of our whānau between parents and their tamariki.
“Being able to bridge that and see our communities come out stronger than ever is definitely the goal for me.”
All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder was given the Waitā Award for sport and said being Māori also helped him on the field.
“It’s my heritage, that’s who I am, that’s my blood that’s what get everything pumping.
“Being able to perform a haka to gets the wairua and everything up there, so it’s huge.”
All the awards are named after stars of Matariki.
TV actor Scotty Morrison, awarded Te Waitī for his work in Te Reo and tikanga, said the Māori language was for everyone.
“If you’re living in New Zealand the Māori language belongs to you and you are most welcome to take ownership of it and to learn it and make it your language because there are heaps of benefits, once you open that door and start learning te reo, you’ll realise what those benefits are.”
Mr Morrison said using Māori words in the media could help revitalise the language.
“Words you’re using and different phrases that you’re using tend to be picked up by people if you start to use them on television, so that’s the mana television has in terms of language revitalisation, you can do a lot through television, social media and radio.”
Māori-owned dairy company Miraka Limited won Te Tupu-a-Nuku Award for business and innovation, and company workers performed their own haka when accepting their award.
2016 Matariki Awards winners list:
– Te Tohu Tiketike o Matariki Supreme Award: Cliff Curtis
– Te Waipuna-a-Rangi Award for Arts and Entertainment: Cliff Curtis
– Te Waitā Award for Sport: Nehe Milner-Skudder
– Te Waitī Award for Te Reo & Tikanga: Scotty Morrison
– Te Tupu-a-Rangi Award for Health & Science: IronMāori
– Matariki Young Achievers Award: Ezekiel Raui
– Te Tupu-a-Nuku Award for Business & Innovation: Miraka Limited
– Te Ururangi Award for Education: Linda Smith