Celebrate Māori New Year with the Matariki Festival at Te Papa, 9 June – 26 June 2011

27 May 2011

In early June the star cluster Matariki (the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters) will reappear in our dawn skies. The Māori New Year begins with the first new moon after Matariki’s reappearance and, from 9 June, Te Papa is bringing this special celebratory period to all people of Aotearoa New Zealand with an 18-day Matariki Festival.

The theme for this year is ‘Ngā Kākahu o Ranginui – The Cloaks of Ranginui’. According to legend, the cloaks of Ranginui (Sky Father) came from his son Tāne, who wanted to make sure his father, was appropriately dressed in a beautiful cloak. Tāne decided to endow his father with stars in the many colours of the rainbow, so he searched the heavenly bodies of light. Once he obtained the stars, he threw them up to adorn Ranginui, along with the moon and the sun. Now, when we look up into the night sky, we are reminded of Tāne’s journey and are inspired by the beauty of Ranginui’s cloak.

In the Matariki Festival programme, the annual Matariki Gala at Te Papa has become a highlight of Wellington's social calendar, bringing together the city's cultural, artistic, and corporate communities to celebrate the Māori New Year.This year, a special effort will be made to raise funds for Canterbury. A percentage of table sales will be donated to the Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Relief Fund, and an auction will be held during the evening, in which all proceeds will be donated to the fund.

This year sees the return of the crowd pleasing Seven Sisters and Seven Bothers concerts. On the Saturday 11 June, enjoy a day of entertainment with this year’s seven sisters; Kahu Taumata, Nat Rose Te Hei with special guest sister Kim Halliday, Majic and Robbie, Aja Wairere Ropata, Rachel Fraser, Kirsten Te Rito and Mihirangi. On Saturday 18 June, join MC Adrian Wagner and this year’s star studded line-up of seven talented brothers; Anatonio Maioha, Troy Hunter, Wiremu Hohaia, Billy TK Senior, Te Paamu, Coast, and Maitreya ft The Babysitters Circus.

The Festival has something for everyone including fashion from New Zealand’s top Māori and Pacific designers, a special Whānau day which includes fun activities for children and seven taonga from our collection of cloaks will be on display on the Marae. These cloaks express the importance of weaving in the Māori creation story, the strength of an art form that continues through generations, and the outstanding skill and knowledge of the weavers. These ancestral cloaks carry with them the values of kaitiakitanga (protection and guardianship), manaakitanga (care), and aroha ki te tangata (respect and regard for others) – values at the heart of Matariki itself.

Traditionally, Matariki was a time when Māori prepared for the upcoming events of the year. Today we continue to acknowledge the importance of Matariki in the past, and its importance to us for the future. It is a time to reflect, and a time to spend with family and friends – a time to appreciate the people around us. Come and enjoy the Māori New Year at Te Papa!

Te Papa thanks the following companies and organisations for their generous support of the Matariki Festival at Te Papa: Principal sponsor NZ Post, Festival partners TelstraClear, The Southern Trust, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, Te Puni Kökiri, and Wellington City Council and, Matariki Education Fund sponsor, Crown Forestry Rental Trust.

Matariki Festival at Te Papa
Thursday 9 June – Sunday 26 June 2011