People of Aotearoa New Zealand are invited to celebrate Matariki at Te Papa

9 May 2012

Every year in late autumn, the stars of Matariki disappear from our evening sky. Around early June, the reappearance of these stars on the eastern horizon in the early morning sky signifies the Māori New Year. From 7 June, all people of Aotearoa New Zealand are invited to celebrate the Matariki Festival at Te Papa.

The theme for this year's festival is Ngā Kete o te Wānanga (The Baskets of Knowledge) which focuses on the Tainui based tradition of Tāwhaki, the ancestor who defied all odds by climbing up to the heavens and attaining worldly knowledge on his journey, which he then shared with his people.

A selection of taonga from Te Papa’s collections will be displayed in the Atrium of Level 4 to further explore the journey of Tāwhaki. Among the treasures are a manu aute (kite) representative of Tāwhaki’s journey to the heavens and a kete (basket) representing one of the baskets of knowledge.

The annual Matariki Gala, premier event of Te Papa’s Matariki Festival, brings together Wellington city’s cultural, artistic and corporate communities, will officially open the festivities of the Māori New Year on 8 June.

This year, celebrations will coincide with the transit of Venus, a rare astronomical phenomenon which was last seen nearly 250 years ago by James Cook in Tahiti. The Royal Society of New Zealand, HP, Radio New Zealand and Te Papa are hosting the Transit of Venus Lecture Series every Thursday in June, featuring Professor Dame Anne Salmond, Sir Ray Avery, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman and Dr William Tobin.

Crowd favourites are set to return for this Matariki Festival, including the Seven Sisters and Seven Brothers concert on the 7, and 14 June respectively, featuring Pacific Curls, Ariana Tikao, Kirsten Te Rito, Zane Wiremu Jarvis, Hani Totorewa (Katchafire). On 16 June, this year’s Billy T Award nominees will brave the stage for the Comedy Boil-Up.

The New Zealand Post Kaumātua Kapa Haka on the weekend of 23 & 24 June will be a joyful celebration of haka and waiata, performed with grace and elation by some of Aotearoa’s most experienced Māori entertainers.

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. The festival events line-up is set to have something for everyone – celebrate Matariki at Our Place.

Te Papa thanks the following companies and organisations for their generous support of the Matariki Festival at Te Papa: Festival sponsors New Zealand Post Group, HP, Te Puni Kōkiri, Southern Trust, and the Wellington City Council, and Education partners, Crown Forestry Rental Trust and Te Taura Whiri.

Matariki Festival at Te Papa
Thursday 7 June – Sunday 1 July 2012

Media contact

Roxan Mathys, Manager, Communications (Acting)
029 601 0180 or (04) 381 7083