Matariki in Tamaki Makaurau

The programme for Matariki in Tamaki Makaurau is enormous, these days – well over a hundred activities and events all around the city.

We chose three special events when we came back from our holiday in the South Island.

Te Hono-  stories from Maori myth and history about Tamaki Makaurau – in the Town Hall Concert Chamber

The three story–tellers were men we have heard before talking about the history of the Tamaki Makaurau area: Taiaha Hawke, of Ngaati Whatua ki Orakei, Rewi Spraggon of Kawarau A Maki, and Pita Turei of Ngaati Paoa.  But this time they were immersed in a stunningly effective total visual environment digitally projected on the walls and ceiling of the Concert Chamber, with sound effects, created by Inside Out Productions.  (We would have enjoyed some stories told by women as well, of course…)

Matariki on the Move: Korero – in the Sky City Theatre

In recent years, there has been a huge resurgence of traditional knowledge about Maori Astronomy and the the significance of particular stars and seasons.  The four speakers were astronomer, Dr Rangi Mataamua, Maori calendar expert Rereata Makiha,  master navigator Hoturoa Kerr, and Rikki Solomon, mental health researcher.

The speakers shared their in-depth knowledge of the stars from their four different perspectives, and noted similarities within other cultures.  The new aspect for us was the ways in which seasonal knowledge is being used in  treating mental health and emotional issues today, eg in suicide prevention by increased vigilance at times of known high risk. 

Three books which we find useful and fascinating are:

  • Matariki: The Star of the Year , by Rangi Mataamua
  • Matariki: The Maori New Year, by Libby Hakaraia
  • Te Kahui o Matariki: Contemporary Maori Art of Aotearoa, edited by Libby Hakaraia and Colleen Waata Urlich

We hope that soon we won’t feel the need to celebrate the English Queen’s Birthday in Aotearoa (it isn’t her birthday anyway), and instead celebrate Matariki as the beginning of the Maori New Year.

Matariki in Newton ….

Taiga, our our 9-year-old friend from Earthsong, came for an overnight stay on Saturday 13 July, just before the end of the Matariki celebrations in Tamaki Makaurau.  We offered him first a choice of science activities  at MOTAT  or some  unusual art exhibitions in Newton – he chose the latter. 

So first we visited Mokopōpaki to explore its latest offerings, which included a range of unusual works by emerging  (including a 6-year-old!)   and more established experimental artists.   See a catalogue at


or better still, pop in sometime to this very welcoming kaupapa Maori  gallery with no white walls…

Then just along at 510 Karangahape Road we visited Starkwhite Gallery, where Fiona Pardington’s TIKI: Orphans of Maoriland were exhibited.  These images are giant photographs of tiki-style objects found in English and European art galleries- mostly made by European artists, and none with with known whakapapa to Maori in Aotearoa.  Each photograph was displayed  on  the most subtly-textured  black background, and the framed pictures hung on the white walls of the gallery – A  stark white contrast indeed to the kaupapa Maori of Mokopōpaki !!

And finally, we visited Objectspace in Rose Road, where Kim Hak, a Cambodian artist, has arranged a deeply moving exhibition of precious objects brought to Aotearoa by refugees from Phnom Penh during the Khmer Rouge terror in Cambodia in the 1970s and 80s.  There are also photos of many of the refugees, and their  stories of why they chose these objects to bring with them. The objects themselves range from  a tiny thimble to an elaborately  carved model horse and carriage; their stories are heartrending.

…and  in Glen Innes….

After visiting  these three contrasting galleries, we drove to Glen Innes for  part of the final night of Matariki celebrations in and around Te Oro, the wonderful community arts and activities centre there.  Before the evening’s events opened, we showed Taiga some of the 26 murals enlivening the back streets and alleys of Glen Innes, and then went into Te Oro itself.. 


In Te Oro, the Arts Centre, we saw Nga Pou Wahine, an exhibition of works made by Natasha Keating using well-worn rimu floorboards from one of the dismantled Glen Innes state houses.  Her works celebrate women’s strength and diversity..




Behind Te Oro from 5.30pm on was the Te Oro Matariki Night Market, with food stalls outside (where we ate delicious Samoan fish chowder and caramelised banana dessert) and the craft and jewellery market inside the community centre (where we bought a Tongan necklace and bracelet made from alternate tightly rolled and varnished tapa scraps and wooden beads)


And beyond these, on Maybury Reserve once it was dark, was a spectacular light show, Te Ara Rama Matariki, a long path around the reserve lined with with bright electric-light images of all kinds, including jellyfish and dolphins, a moa and a kiwi, cows and a waterfall; and we walked through a fairy forest with  moving coloured sparkles all around… hundreds of children were brandishing the lightsticks for sale at the beginning of the trail as they walked and played…













We  all enjoyed these glimpses of our very diverse urban arts scene…and we really appreciate having young people around to inspire us to venture into new experiences!


  1. Great to hear of all this…yes! To official Matariki holidays…Easter changes year to year so Matariki can too…and YES! to how wonderfully young people spur us on to try new things…

  2. What diverse and inspiring events. Matariki has certainly exploded unto life over the past decades.

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