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Matariki Drone Light Show: A Different Kind Of Lights In The Sky

The New Zealand International Science Festival is extremely pleased to announce that almost two years of work are about to pay off, with a gorgeous – and free – community event scheduled for Matariki weekend.

The Matariki Drone Light Show will take place at the University Oval at Logan Park on Saturday 29 June. The community is invited to bring picnics or browse the night market food trucks from 5.30pm, with the ten-minute long show starting at 6.30pm.

The show will be the largest of its kind to date in Aotearoa and one of two marking the national holiday (the other is in Rotorua).

NZISF Director Jerome Cousins says, “It’s such a fantastic feeling to have this event actually happening. We’ve been working closely with Drone Sky Shows and the Civil Aviation Authority since we received MBIE funding in 2022. When we started the process, there hadn’t been a drone show in Aotearoa so it was new territory for all of us – the CAA actually had to create processes and forms from scratch for us which took some time. It’s so great to see that work paying off as drone shows start to pop up around the country.”

The artwork will be created by Kāi Tahu creative storytellers Kitty Brown and Kirsten Parkinson, cousins known to collaborate on many wild and wonderful projects and the founders of the bilingual publishing house Reo Pēpi.

The 200-plus drones will tell a very local story in the sky, drawing on mātauraka Māori and environmental signals. The show will be supported by original music by Alistair Fraser, one of Aotearoa/NZ’s expert performers of taoka pūoro.

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Visual artist Kirsten Parkinson say’s "Matariki is about remembering our tupuna, gathering with our whānau and celebrating the natural environment, so we’ll be following these ideas in the show – as well as the all-important concept of getting outside and looking at the stars, drones or no drones! It’s pretty amazing to have the night sky as a canvas!”

Jerome adds, “We’re looking forward to seeing thousands of Dunedin people and their families enjoying the show, as well as people visiting the city for the long weekend. It’s going to be a great evening.”

To support the NZISF’s Matariki Drone Light Show, the Dunedin City Council has arranged a night market and live music.

The food trucks will be on Logan Park Drive by the path that runs along the side of the artificial turfs with the stage nearby. The Drone Light Show will be over the University Oval with an exclusion zone for safety stretching from the Sargood Centre to Logan Park Drive to just beyond the Otago University RFC.

While the event is free with no booking required, Jerome recommends that people keen to attend register on the NZISF website to receive updates – “drone shows are very sensitive to weather, especially wind, so we want to be able to let our audience know if the plan has to change.”

The event may be delayed by up to an hour depending on weather at the time and, if necessary, there is a postponement date on Sunday 30 June. Attendees can register at www.scifest.org.nz to receive updates.

The NZISF team is also looking for volunteers to support the event and NanoFest in the July school holidays. Those interested in signing up can email production@scifest.org.nz for information.


5.30pm - 8pm – night market - food trucks, live entertainment

6.30pm - Matariki Drone Light Show starts

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