Celebrating Matariki, the Māori New Year

Written by Sara Black

Photography Supplied

Matariki, marking the Māori New Year, is upon us and we share our Matariki Festival musts.

Matariki, the name of the universe’s Pleiades star cluster and the season of its first mid-winter rising, brings us many ways in which to celebrate the Māori New Year and pay our respects to those who have passed.

Firstly, witness the spectacular cluster with your eyes. Have a compass on hand (iPhones also kindly provide this tool too) and set your alarm. Before sun’s rise, look to the north-east horizon and find the constellation Tautoru or Orion’s Belt (also known as ‘the pot’). Trace north from Tautoru’s three stars and squint a bit. You’ll spot a faint cluster of minuscule dots and this, my friend, is the Matariki star cluster.

Secondly, celebrate this special time of year by enjoying the fruits of Auckland’s Matariki Festival. Below are some of our bucket-list events.

matariki maori new year

He Whakaahua o Ngā Whetū — Photography of the Stars
Richie Toa Mills has done a star turn as dancer, DJ and, now, director of photography. And, as a multi-disciplined artist, his mahi is a perfect match for showing at Māngere Arts Centre — Ngā Tohu o Uenuku. For this exhibition, he’s created a series of night sky photographs that demonstrate the massive and silent beauty of dark skies in Aotearoa.

What: Exhibition
Where: Māngere Arts Centre — Ngā Tohu o Uenuku, Cnr Orly Ave and Bader Drive, Māngere
When: From Friday 26 June
Cost: Free
matariki maori new year

Whitu
Whitu helps us to remember the past by acknowledging the importance of the future in the creative process. Seven artists have been invited to celebrate Matariki through this exhibition, including Tom Carroll, Stevei Houkamau, Mandy Joass, Tracy Keith, Hana Rakena, Terence Turner and Arielle Walker.

What: Exhibition
Where: Masterworks Gallery, 71 Upper Queen St, Eden Terrace
When: Saturday 20 June – Wednesday 15 July
Cost: Free

Matariki Paper Mural
Be part of the Matariki paper mural, outside Parnell’s Weird & Wonderful Gallery, by adding your Matariki wish to the wall. Spend this winter time gathered together, filling the wall with bright, colourful hopes for the Māori new year. As the Auckland Museum heads towards a more sustainable future, all materials used will be composted, reused or recycled.

What: Public Art Project
Where: Auckland Museum, The Domain, Parnell
When: Mondays – Sundays, 10am – 5pm
Cost: Free
matariki maori new year

Wainuiatea
This film is an experimental exploration of space, water and everything in between, by two indigenous female filmmakers, Aotearoa’s Natasha Keating (Tūhoe, Tūwharetoa) and Canada’s Asinnajaq (Inuit). These audio-visual, mixed-media artworks are presented in association with the Wairoa Māori Film Festival and CineMāori.

What: Film
Where: Pah Homestead, Wallace Arts Trust, 72 Hillsborough Rd, Hillsborough
When: Tuesday 23 June – Wednesday 15 July
Cost: Free

Vector Lights for Matariki Festival
Enjoy a stunning light display on Auckland Harbour Bridge designed by professor Rangi Matamua and Matariki Festival director, Ataahua Papa. Learn the story of the nine stars in the Matariki cluster and what they represent. Interweaving history, astronomy and storytelling, the accompanying narrative can be accessed via the Vector Lights website.

What: Light Display
Where: Auckland Harbour Bridge
When: 24 – 28 June, 4 – 5 July, 10 – 12 July
Cost: Free

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