For the first time, Maori culture had its chance to shine alongside Islamic teachings at a Mosque in Wellington, on Sunday, June 30.
Twinkling in the winter sky just before dawn, Matariki (the Pleiades) signals the Maori New Year, as it is traditionally a time for planting and planning for the year ahead.
The Muslim community earlier in May-June observed the month of Ramadan by fasting from dawn to dusk for 30 days and ended the holy month by sighting the moon and celebrated Eid.
Because of the close timing of the two events the group O Matou Reo collaborated with the International Muslim Association of New Zealand (IMAN) and invited people to learn more about Maori culture with “Matariki at the Mosque”. The group are hoping it will become an annual event in the Wellington community.
Matariki at The Mosque was a chance to learn about Maori culture within the framework of Islam and attendees were presented with stories, traditional games, served halal hangi and explored the role of astronomy in Islam and Maori culture.
“We have been thinking and planning this for a long time now, and it is the first time a Maori cultural event is presented at a mosque,” Noeleen van de Lisdonk told The Indian Weekender.
As per the latest census, 1300 people around New Zealand identified as Maori Muslims.
Maori Muslims in New Zealand, last year, raised concerns that there was limited knowledge about the Maori culture within the community.
From that came O Matou Reo, which translates to "our collective voices" - a group of Maori and non-Maori Muslims who support Maori culture and language within the religion and work to support Maori Muslims.
The O Matou Reo group has already started introducing te reo (Maori language) signs for different rooms in mosques and worked to bring Matariki at The Mosque to life.
“During Ramadan people often turned over a new leaf and the month of fasting was marked by the shape of the moon. In comparison, Matariki celebrated a new year and new beginnings and was marked by the appearance of a star cluster - the Seven Sisters.” O Matou Reo team member Sylvie Dickson told Stuff.co.nz.
"What we've found once we got all our knowledge together is there are many similarities in Maori cultural concepts and Islamic teachings."