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Te Papa Research Reveals How New Zealanders Mark Matariki

As it opens its Mānawatia a Matariki exhibition, Te Papa is sharing nationwide research and visitor insights that show how New Zealanders are embracing the indigenous New Year.

The museum has also released its Matariki events programme including Taikura Kapa Haka, and launched new online resources at

A nationwide poll conducted for Te Papa showed that 50% of all New Zealanders took action to mark Matariki in 2022.

  • 19% of the New Zealand population looked at the Matariki star cluster in the night sky.
  • 11% went to a community Matariki event.
  • 11% went to a Matariki event for whānau or friends.
  • 11% watched a Matariki event online or on television.
  • 3% went to a hautapu ceremony.
  • 12% took some other action to learn more about Matariki.
  • NB: adds up to more than 50% because of people doing multiple activities.

Families with children are more likely to have celebrated Matariki, with Māori, Pasifika and Asian New Zealanders more likely than average to mark the occasion. Those born in Aotearoa and those born overseas are equally likely to mark Matariki.

The survey of 1,000 people was conducted by Kantar Public in August 2022 and is nationally representative.

Te Papa Kaihautū | Māori co-leader Dr Arapata Hakiwai says the research shows how Matariki is becoming a truly national phenomenon.

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“When Te Papa started celebrating Matariki twenty five years ago, we were an outlier. Now we see how Matariki is being embraced by New Zealanders across the board – it’s a mark of how far we have come as a nation,” Dr Hakiwai says.

The museum’s Mānawatia a Matariki exhibition is open again from 2 June – 30 July 2023. An estimated 60,000 people visited the exhibition last year.

Visitors left behind more than 12,000 hand-written notes sharing their pledges for the future with Hiwa-i-te-rangi, the star in the Matariki cluster associated with dreams and aspirations.

Te Papa analysed a sample of 1,641 of the aspirations left behind and found some common themes.

Aroha 37%
Be connected 21%
Act for nature 13%
Make change 7%
Thrive in te ao Māori 5%
Serve community 5%
Support whānau 4%

Messages ranged from the profound: To leave this world a better place for my tamariki. To bring back nature, for humans to learn they are part of nature + walk harmoniously with it, to the practical: Ka whakapai au I taku ruma moe. [To clean my bedroom].

Matariki is a time of year to remember those who have passed, and a number of visitors left personal messages about loved ones for Pōhutukawa, the star of remembrance.

Dr Hakiwai says the pledges left in the exhibition show that visitors are connecting with Matariki on a deep and personal level.

“The pledges left by visitors show how people understand that Matariki is a time for remembrance, connection and hope for the future.”

“It is really moving to look through all those handwritten notes and see how people are connecting with Matariki on such a personal level,” Dr Hakiwai says.

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