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Matariki Festival - week one highlights

Auckland Council re-shapes Matariki Festival with virtual, pop-up and traditional elements for everyone.

Published: 11 June 2020

Prepare for a world of Matariki wonder from 20 June to 15 July.

Matariki Festival begins three weeks before the Matariki stars rise in the morning sky, ushering in the Māori new year and bringing Māori storytelling, astronomy, performing arts, knowledge, film, culture and music to the forefront. 

Festival director Ataahua Papa believes the city’s 2020 festival, although smaller in scale, will come with a timely sense of hope for the future.

“Matariki is a time to look back and remember those who are no longer with us, as well as to look forward and celebrate new life and new ways forward," says Mayor Phil Goff.

“While it will be a smaller festival this year, I hope Aucklanders will take the opportunity to participate in new ways and learn more about te ao Māori together.”

See the full festival line-up at matarikifestival.org.nz

Matariki Dawn Karakia pivots

Waikato-Tainui, iwi manaaki (host iwi) of Matariki Festival, will lead the Matariki Dawn Karakia on 20 June to open the festival for 2020.

Commemorating those who have passed, acknowledging those who remain and planning for the approaching seasons, a small gathering of guests and a New Zealand-wide virtual audience will welcome the new year with karanga, karakia and waiata.

Join the live-stream via the Matariki Festival Facebook page.  

Te Taumata Kapa Haka pops up

Britomart will host Te Taumata Kapa Haka in 2020, featuring an exhibition of lightboxes from 22 June and live performances from 29 June.

Lunchtime crowds are invited to purchase and enjoy an earth-oven cooked hāngi lunch then sit back and enjoy some of Auckland's best kapa haka groups live in Takutai Square.

Proudly supported by Britomart.

City lights up in a Matariki spectacle

Called Light Up Tāmaki, this spectacle will light up the night sky from 24 June.

The orange colour of a Matariki sunrise will flood the SkyTower, Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira, Te Ara I Whiti – The Lightpath and Queen Street Lights in the Heart of the City.

Auckland Harbour Bridge will also feature a dazzling new display with Vector Lights for Matariki Festival. Created and narrated by astronomer Professor Rangi Matamua with festival director Ataahua Papa, the bridge narrative depicts stories of nine Matariki stars.

Papa says there is more than one kōrero when Māori quantify the stars in the Matariki (Pleiades) cluster. She says, for example, Waikato-Tainui celebrate seven stars and other tribes celebrate as many as 25.

Manu Aute Kites reaches loved ones in the sky

Māori encourage us to look up to the sky at night and appreciate the stars during Matariki season. They use centuries of knowledge of the rising and setting patterns of the stars to navigate and to read the year ahead.

For Māori, the stars also signify their ancestors. They use kites to send messages to loved ones who have entered the star realm. In past centuries kites were also used to communicate with distant whānau and signal between settlements.

For Manu Aute Kites, all Aucklanders are encouraged to head to their local park, maunga (mountain) or backyard on Sunday 28 June and fly a kite. Some might even send a message to their loved ones in the sky.

Matariki Festival is proudly hosted by Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland Council) in collaboration with Waikato-Tainui, with the support of Vector Lights (principal partner) and Britomart (supporting partner).

Read more: Matariki Cultural

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