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Matariki Celebrations At Te Papa

Matariki Celebrations At Te Papa

Te Papa is celebrating Matariki, the Mäori New Year, with four weeks of free shows, lectures, and activities, beginning on Saturday 7 June.

In the early morning of 2 June, the star cluster Matariki - or Pleiades - appeared in our dawn skies. The Mäori New Year begins with the first new moon after the first appearance of Matariki. This year the new moon appears on 30 June. The bright star Puanga - or Rigel - emerges at about the same time, and for some iwi it is the appearance of Puanga rather than Matariki that is celebrated.

During the weeks of Matariki, all activities to do with providing for daily living take on spiritual significance, based on giving respect to the source of life. Crops are planted, and Rongo-ma-tane, the god of cultivated food, is appeased for a productive return. It is a good time to gather pikopiko (fern fronds) and a host of native berries. It is also the right time to cast fishing nets and lines into the depths of Tangaroa - god of the sea - to make the most of bountiful supplies of migrating fish.

The appearance of Matariki in the sky is considered vital. If the stars in the cluster are clear and bright, it is thought that the year ahead will be warm and productive. If they appear hazy and shimmering, a cold winter is in store, and all activities during the period of Matariki must take this into account.

Te Papa has adopted Matariki as an annual event, and as iwi all around the country mark this period with song, dance, feasting, and ceremony, Te Papa will host an exciting line-up of activities including a night with the cast of Whale Rider, a performance of Awhina, a play by Taki Rua Productions, and a Matariki-themed family day.

Matariki at Te Papa has been supported by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Mäori (The Mäori Language Commission), since the birth of the Matariki renaissance, because it promotes culture and culture promotes language. "Matariki is a very positive celebration based on natural rhythms and cycles and part of traditional Maori knowledge which is useful not only to Maori people but to all New Zealanders. We at Te Taura Whiri support the idea of recognising the indigenous New Year as a national celebration day for all New Zealanders," says Haami Piripi Chief Executive of the Te Taura Whiri.

"As Matariki is not a man made phenomena it does not occur on a nominated day of the year but is chosen by nature. It is a traditional time for individuals, families and communities, to come together to plan the forthcoming year. This is something New Zealand families can benefit a lot from and something that the social services in New Zealand could learn from.

For Te Papa, Matariki is an annual event that celebrates the indigenous calendar of Aotearoa. To commemorate Matariki, Te Papa Press has produced a Matariki calendar that runs from June 2003 until May 2004. The calendar is based on traditional knowledge of the seasonal cycle, and looks at its significance to Mäori. Icon Restaurant is also offering an innovative Matariki lunch menu from 9 June until 30 June.

For a full events programme visit

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