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Matariki: The Coming of the Maori New Year

Jun 5, 2018  ·  3 min read

There’s no party like a New Year’s party and us Kiwis are lucky enough to celebrate a New Year more than once a year!

Friday the 15th of June will see the start of Matariki, which signals the coming of the Maori New Year.

What is Matariki?

For those who are unfamiliar, Matariki is the Maori name for a cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. Matariki literally means the ‘Eyes of God’ (mata ariki) or ‘Little Eyes’ (mata riki).

According to myth, when Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, were separated by their children, the god of the winds, Tāwhirimātea, became so angry that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens.

What’s happening

There will be celebrations happening all over New Zealand and, as the cultural capital, Wellington will be embracing the celebrations with a variety of events and here’s your city guide to the festive (and free) period of joy.

ReCut 5
This is an evening of creative and a uniquely Wellington flavoured public event. ReCut is the Council’s stunning new series of free, dynamic, outdoor arts events taking place in Civic Square to showcase Wellington as Aotearoa New Zealand’s Capital of Culture. From sculpture to digital art, fashion to spoken word, music to sonic arts, it’s just Welly doing its thang.

When: Friday 15 June from 5.30pm

Ahi Kā
Odlin’s Plaza and the Whairepo Lagoon is where Wellington’s waterfront experiences our new event, Ahi Kā. Celebrate and learn about the Māori New Year amongst fire, food, friends and whānau. The nation’s finest Māori performers and storytellers come together with a beautiful light parade, art installations alongside the option to dig in into a Hangi, toasted marshmallows  – plus, a midwinter bonfire because it is the middle of Winter.

When: Friday 29 June at 6pm

Immerse yourself in an award-winning AV/live dance installation by internationally recognised NZ arts laureate Daniel Belton and Good Arts Company. It’s a spellbinding experience to match the magic of Matariki. The performance will run over two nights at the eastern end of the Te Papa Promenade.

When: 29th and 30th June from 7pm

To close out the Matariki celebrations, Wellington is putting on a Sky Show. This spectacular event will now be the only time Wellington has a large firework display in the city. Get in early and grab yourself a good spot, as sparks begin to fly at 6.30pm.

When: Saturday 7th July from 6.30pm

Matariki is a time for reflection and celebrates the year gone by, a time to show respect for the land, remember the whakapapa (ancestry) and the legacy they have left behind and turn to the future – and I for one can’t wait.

words by tim o’hara


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