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Mata Ora – Pathway of the Living

Carter Observatory

The National Observatory of New Zealand

(Date 2007 December 13. For immediate release)

Mata Ora – Pathway of the Living
December 12-16th Wellington, NZ

Wellington's Carter Observatory will this week mark the height of the “voyaging season” -- when the constellations that guided ancient navigators in waka hourua (double hull ocean going canoes) are in the night sky -- with a free concert under the sails on Queens Wharf with the stars and tales of traditional voyages.

The Pleiades star cluster or The Seven Sisters is known to Maori as Matariki which can be translated to the eyes of the high chief, rises in the eastern dawn sky to mark the traditional Maori New Year around June each year. Six months later, at this time, Matariki graces the night sky seen in the northeast sky at dusk joining the many other markers of Polynesian astro-navigation. For centuries, these constellations have guided voyagers across the Pacific Ocean to Aotearoa leaving in November/December before the weather change season.

From Wednesday (December 12th) waka hourua captains and navigators will share their stories of ocean voyages and how traditional astro-navigation opened pathways across the oceans. Two-hour informal panel talks will be staged at Pataka Museum in Porirua daily at 10am Wednesday to Saturday, and at Wellington's Museum of City and Sea at 2pm Wednesday to Sunday. Speakers will include Te Aurere captain Hector Busby, Jack Thatcher, Hoturua Kerr and Matahi Brightwell, joined with other guests and the Carter Observatory staff. On Friday, at Queen's Wharf, the Mata Ora Prophetic Song Concert will feature Rhian Sheehan, Jess Chambers, Mina and Maaka and other guests, along with star talks from astronomers and navigators other activities will include telescope viewing, kapa haka and food as part of the celebrations. Entry to all events are free of charge and suitable for all ages.

The name of the event commemorates Mata Ora, an ancient time ancestor who navigated across the ocean in search of his lover Niwareka. Mata Ora made his voyage at approximately the end of November travelling across the pacific. We celebrate this time with stories, music and star talks to honour the return of this higher knowledge in our modern times. Hear talks from Hector Busby, Jack Thatcher and guests as they show us their way of travelling with the tides, winds, birds, Sun, Moon and stars between pacific locations and Aotearoa. Without this knowledge, the ancient Maori would never have found Aotearoa.


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