Free events for the whole whānau at Matariki Wellington 2014!

5 June 2014

For the first time, Wellington’s galleries and museums work together to bring you nearly 100 events to celebrate Matariki!

For many, the Matariki star cluster (also known as Pleiades) appears in the early-morning sky on Aotearoa’s eastern horizon, predominantly in the month of Pipiri (June), signalling the commencement of the Māori New Year.

From 1 June–26 July, everyone is invited to celebrate the Matariki Festival in the Wellington Region, Te Upoko-o-te-ika-a-Māui: at Carter Observatory, City Gallery Wellington, The Dowse Art Museum, Expressions Whirinaki, Mahara Gallery, Museum of Wellington City & Sea, Pataka Art + Museum, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and many more.

With support from the Wellington Regional Amenities Fund, these institutions and others throughout the region have put together a stellar line-up of events to celebrate Matariki and share the values of whakawhanaungatanga (celebrating communities), manaakitanga (sharing our world with others), and the key theme of the festival, kaitiakitanga (guardianship).

Arapata Hakiwai, Te Papa’s Acting Chief Executive and Kaihautū, says “Matariki is important to us as a nation in that it recognises and affirms our indigenous maramataka or calendar of Aotearoa New Zealand. In celebrating the dawning of the Māori New Year I am thrilled that we have worked together collaboratively to create the largest Matariki festival that Wellington has seen. The theme of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is an acknowledgement to those in the past who have respected our taonga, people, land and culture, so that we may appreciate it now, and understand the importance of our role in creating a sustainable future for generations to come.”

The consortium of museums and galleries have greatly enjoyed working together to provide Wellington with a new experience of Matariki. Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, chair of the Wellington Regional Amenities Fund, says "the Matariki initiative is an excellent example of the fund catalysing cooperation between many organisations. Matariki is a unique New Zealand festival and has the potential to attract overseas visitors as well as locals enjoying these diverse events."

Many of the varied Matariki Wellington festival events are free, and the vibrant programme includes something for the whole family. Exhibitions; music, drama and dance performances; family fun days; kapa haka; film screenings; star gazing; workshops; artist talks and an Art Night bus tour are just some of the activities on offer. Come and enjoy the region-wide Matariki arts festival at Matariki Wellington 2014.

To find out more about the festival programme, go to

The consortium gratefully acknowledges the support of the Wellington Regional Amenities Fund.

Media enquiries

Media enquiries should be directed to contacts at the following institutions:

City Gallery
Olivia Lacey

Carter Observatory and Museum of Wellington City & Sea
Charlotte Rosier
04 496 1947

The Dowse Art Museum
Katrina Smit
04 560 1477

Expressions Whirinaki
Leanne Wickham
04 527 2168

Mahara Gallery
Janet Bayly
027 213 9692

Pātaka Art + Museum
Helen Kedgley
04 237 1510

Te Papa
Cherie McQuilkin
04 381 7083

What others are saying about Matariki

Elizabeth Caldwell, Director, City Gallery Wellington:

“Matariki, under various names (in Japan, it is Subaru), is celebrated throughout the Pacific. Now, it is being celebrated throughout Wellington. Given its international mandate, it's particularly resonant – and exciting – for the City Gallery to partner with fellow organisations to take part in a festival that is acknowledged throughout the Pacific Basin."

Courtney Johnston, Director, The Dowse Art Museum:

“The Matariki Festival collaboration has enabled The Dowse to join with arts and cultural institutions throughout the Wellington region to offer locals and visitors alike a rich, exciting, and largely free programme of events to celebrate Matariki. It’s been an terrific chance for all the participating organisations to work together in a way that benefits all our local communities, as well as creating a festival that will have nation-wide appeal. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Wellington Regional Amenities Fund, which underpins this collaboration.”

Brett Mason, Director, Museums Wellington:

“Museums Wellington is looking forward to being a part of the Matariki Wellington Festival. We’ve a range of innovative events that reflect this important time of year, as well as exciting trails at Carter Observatory that bring the story of Matariki to life for our younger visitors. Among the other highlights, Te Ao Mārama at the Museum of Wellington City & Sea presents a musical interpretation of the story of Ranginui (the sky father) and Papatūānuku (the earth mother) with Chamber Music NZ. We’ll also be inviting people to share memories of loved ones lost over the last 12 months and record goals for the year ahead in a dedicated section within the Museum. Carter Observatory brings out its portable telescopes so the public can experience Matariki rising in a Dawn viewing from Tangi te Ke.”

Janet Bayly, Director, Mahara Gallery:

“Mahara Gallery in Waikanae is thrilled to be participating in this Wellington regional event with our first Matariki exhibition and programme, in which we have also partnered with Kāpiti Coast District Libraries. Kāpiti is a coastal environment richly endowed with creative thinkers, makers and performers and our programme reflects the rich cultural heritage that this district is celebrating through Matariki, a uniquely New Zealand festival. It has been a joy to work collaboratively alongside our colleagues in the cultural sector supported by the Wellington Regional Amenities Fund, and has strengthened our many links to Te Upoko-o-te-Ika-a-Māui.”

Helen Kedgley, Director, Pātaka Art + Museum:

“It’s been a great thrill for Pātaka to join forces with others in the region to celebrate Matariki.”

Leanne Wickham, Director, Expressions Whirinaki:

“Expressions Whirinaki is thrilled to be part of the region-wide Matariki Festival and is delighted to be working with the other key attractors in the area in such a collaborative project. The resulting programme is filled with variety, vibrancy and vitality.”