Te Papa’s free resources help children learn about Matariki

11 May 2016

Schools and early childhood centres have a new resource to help children celebrate Matariki, the Māori New Year.

Last year’s resource was downloaded more than 30,000 times around the country, by teachers wanting to teach their classes about the mid-winter milestone.

This year, the long-standing tradition of storytelling (kōrero pūrākau ) during Matariki is celebrated.

The resource is in three parts; beginning with information on the pre-European concept of the whare tapere, or house of entertainment. Part two focuses on storytelling through creative movement and dance, while part three illustrates how to use sand art to tell stories.

“The resource was developed around this year’s Matariki theme at Te Papa, ‘let the words flow’, says Te Papa’s Early Childhood Education Specialist, Rebecca Browne.

The theme was gifted to Te Papa by local iwi Ngāti Toa.

“There are plenty of ideas everyone can use to help develop their own engaging Matariki activities. Having an online resource provides a way for groups to access elements of Te Papa’s Matariki education programmes, no matter where you are in New Zealand.”

Rebecca says Matariki was traditionally held when the harvest was over and people had time for learning and entertainment.

“Storytelling was full of drama, imagery and action, which lends itself to plenty of great opportunities for teachers and caregivers.”

Rebecca says kōrero pūrākau has continued to be practised to the present day.

“It’s up to all of us – kaiako (educators), whānau, and tamariki – to nurture this vibrant and powerful custom for the generations to come.”

Notes to editors

Matariki is the Māori name for the star cluster known as the Pleiades. Traditionally, it appears just before dawn in late May or early June each year, signalling the start of the Māori New Year and the beginning of the sun’s ‘return back’. This year Matariki starts on 2 June.

Customarily, Matariki was a time for Māori to remember the deceased of the past year and to plan for the next year. Today, Matariki has been revived as a celebration of people, culture, language, spirituality, and history. It is a time for whānau (family) and friends to come together to reflect on the past 12 months and look towards the year ahead.

Media contact

Jenny Bridgen
029 601 0010