Mānawatia a Matariki!
It’s time to celebrate Matariki in Tāmaki Makaurau.
For Aucklanders, Matariki Festival will be celebrated with a three-week extravaganza of arts, culture and kai, proudly curated by Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland Council with generous support from iwi partner Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.
Taking place from 21 June to 16 July, all these events will honour the arrival of Matariki in the night sky.
Stars have always played a vital role in the lives of Polynesian people, notably as a tool for navigating between the islands of Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, the vast Pacific Ocean. Among other things, the stars helped to guide Aotearoa’s earliest arrivals.
Ngā whetu (the stars) herald the arrival of Māori New Year with the appearance of the Matariki star cluster in the predawn sky.
With the first glimpses visible on 21 June, Auckland Council, in partnership with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, is committed to recognising this astronomical event with all the pomp and ceremony it deserves.
To add another layer of delight this year, Matariki will be celebrated with a public holiday for the first time ever on 24 June. Kei te pai.
Matariki – also known as Pleiades or The Seven Sisters – alerts us to Te Tau Hou, or Māori New Year. Te Tau Hou is known as the time that whānau and friends come together and think about the year ahead, with a special emphasis on planting. So get those gardens prepared too.
It is an excellent time to pause and reflect on the year that has passed, while also making optimistic plans for the future. It is also a welcome excuse to celebrate with kai, kōrero, waiata and entertainment.
To simplify your Matariki planning, we’ve compiled a handful of highlights from our jam-packed events calendar, with a focus on education, entertainment and celebration, promoting togetherness, culture and whakawhanaungatanga.
Umu Kohukohu Whetū, Ōrākei Marae, 21 June
The first pou, or significant event, in Tāmaki Makaurau will be Umu Kohukohu Whetū, a predawn launch at Ōrākei Marae.
This is a welcome return of a once traditional custom, thanks to iwi partner Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.
This early morning ritual offers manuhiri (visitors) an opportunity to learn and reflect, while karakia (prayers) and karanga (ceremonial calls) echo across the whenua (land).
Manu Aute Kite Day, Takaparawhau / Bastion Point, 25 June
Flying kites is a long-held Māori custom at Matariki, because kites are seen as symbols that connect the heavens with the earth. Look to the skies to marvel at these colourful creations. Watch as they soar like birds above Bastion Point, delighting people of all ages, especially tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people).
Back down on the ground there will be performances, stalls and plenty of assistance from frequent flyers, who are happy to help those wanting to have a go at making their own kite.
Matariki on the Move, Stardome Planetarium, 1 July
Astronomy and live music are woven together in this virtual journey to the Matariki star cluster with Matariki on the Move at Stardome. This perennial Auckland favourite will serve up a sensory feast that focuses on the significance of Matariki, why it appears at dawn around this time each year and what it all means.
Te Taumata Kapa Haka
Adding another dimension for the senses, Te Taumata Kapa Haka will see kapa haka performances pop up in malls and public spaces all around the wider Auckland region, with practitioners finding creative new ways to merge waiata, poi, haka and dance, offering an innovative blend of traditional and modern elements.
Vector Lights, Auckland Harbour Bridge, throughout Matariki
Find a comfortable safe place to view the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and you’ll be able to enjoy Vector Lights, a dazzling display that delivers a Matariki-themed light show on the bridge. This promises to be utterly illuminating. Can people tune into curated music?
Te Korakora, Wynyard Quarter, Saturday, 16 July
To round out this lively series of stellar events, Matariki Festival will finish on 16 July with Te Korakora, a free concert in the heart of Tāmaki Makaurau at Wynyard Quarter. Gather up whānau and ngā hoa (friends) and settle in for an evening of kai and contemporary Māori music at this inspiring activation. Tiny bit more? Nothing available online.
This is just a taste of what’s on offer. There are more than 100 activities and events to choose from, with many of them free or low-cost. So whether you’re young or young at heart, Matariki Festival 2022 promises to delight and inspire with its superb selection of sights and lights, sounds and flavours, all the while sharing the kaupapa (values) behind Aotearoa’s newest public holiday.
Tihei mauri ora. Let there be life!
With special thanks to iwi partners Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.
Visit matarikifestival.org.nz for details.