Te Papa hosts official launch of Matariki, opens exhibition, announces events

Read this press release in te reo Māori

Visitors in the Matariki Experience, 2022. Photo by Daniel Crichton-Rouse. Te Papa

E ko te hautapu, he rite ki te kai nā Matariki! Matariki hunga nui, te mātahi o te tau. Nau mai rā!*

Te Papa will host the official launch of Matariki as a public holiday at a pre-dawn ceremony on Friday 24 June.

Matariki becomes a public holiday in Aotearoa New Zealand from this year. It marks the Māori New Year, which is celebrated in the southern hemisphere midwinter, following the rising of the star cluster Matariki (Pleiades).

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will join tohunga (experts) in a pre-dawn hautapu ceremony to celebrate a global first – a public holiday built on mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge).

The museum will also open an interactive Matariki exhibition, Mānawatia a Matariki, on 11 June, and run a series of whānau-friendly events 24 June – 3 July.

Te Papa has held Matariki celebrations for more than 20 years, and Kaihautū | Māori Co-leader Dr Arapata Hakiwai says the creation of a national public holiday to mark Matariki is a dream come true.

“Over the last 20 years, iwi in residence at Te Papa have spoken of their wish for Matariki to become a nationwide celebration for all New Zealanders.”

“There will be a lot of people in our thoughts this year, looking down on us and thrilled that we are coming together as a nation to celebrate Matariki,” says Dr Hakiwai.

This rising of the Matariki star cluster in the southern skies marks the new year in Aotearoa for many iwi (tribes). It is a time to gather with family and friends to reflect on the past, celebrate the present, and plan for the future.

“While the Matariki star cluster is significant to many cultures, the knowledge and practices developed here over centuries are deeply rooted in te ao Māori and our environment,” says Dr Hakiwai.

Te Papa Tumu Whakarae | Chief Executive Courtney Johnston says Te Papa is honoured to host the official launch.

“This is something we want to share with as many people as possible. Coming together for Matariki is part of us gaining a greater understanding of mātauranga Māori and celebrating our unique place in the world.”

The hautapu ceremony involves the cooking of kai connected to the stars of Matariki. Steam from the kai is released to feed the stars, and tohunga look to the appearance of the star cluster and make predictions for the year ahead. Twelve tohunga will offer karakia (prayers) at the hautapu ceremony, with Professor Rangi Matamua looking to the stars and sharing his insights.

The ceremony will be broadcast across a range of media channels and live streamed at matariki.net.nz.

*This introductory phrase includes a line from a haka which references the hautapu ceremony and Matariki and continues with whakataukī about Matariki being about coming together and celebrating the New Year.


Matariki exhibition: 11 Jun – 21 Aug 2022

To herald the new public holiday, Te Papa will open a special interactive exhibition about Matariki to encourage everyone to participate in marking our New Year. The key themes of the experience are: remember, celebrate, and hope. The Matariki exhibition opens Saturday 10 June and closes Sunday 21 August. Entry is free.

Matariki events programme: 24 Jun – 3 Jul 2022

Free, whānau-friendly events include expert speakers, activities for tamariki (children), rongoā (Māori medicine) sessions, performances from the NZSO, and a concert featuring Maisey Rika and Troy Kingi.

Online events include the ever-popular Taikura kapa haka performances by kaumātua (elders) from around the country. Performances will be shared on Te Papa’s Facebook throughout the Matariki period.

Te Papa’s website offers a wide range of resources including guides for finding Matariki, downloadable activity books for children, and a Matariki quiz.

For more information on the Matariki programme of events and resources, go to tepapa.nz/matariki.


Images for download from Dropbox

  • Matariki 1. Visitors share aspirations for community, whānau and nature in the Mānawatia a Matariki exhibition at Te Papa. Photo credit: Te Papa

  • Matariki 2. Visitors hang up their aspirations for Matariki, under the watchful eye of Tawhirimātea. The name “Matariki” is a shortening of the phrase Ngā mata o te ariki o Tāwhirimātea – the eyes of the god Tāwhirimātea. Photo credit: Te Papa

  • Matariki 3. Visitors use wool to trace how they will spend their Matariki holiday

  • Matariki 4. Te Papa’s Mānawatia a Matariki exhibition where visitors can remember the past, celebrate the present and hope for the future. Photo credit: Te Papa

  • Matariki 5. Gather with whānau and share aspirations for the year ahead in Te Papa’s Mānawatia a Matariki exhibition. Photo credit: Te Papa

  • Matariki 8. Professor Rangi Matamua looks to Matariki at Te Papa’s 2021 hautapu ceremony. Photo credit: Te Papa

  • Matariki 7. Te Papa’s Lee Johnson with the kai he prepared for Te Papa’s 2021 Matariki hautapu ceremony. Mr Johnson will prepare the kai for this year’s hautapu. Photo credit: Te Papa

  • Matariki 6. Ceremonial kai from Te Papa’s 2021 Matariki hautapu ceremony. The kai relates to different stars in the Matariki cluster, representing fresh water, salt water, kai from the ground and the air. Photo credit: Te Papa

How to celebrate Matariki at home

  1. Enjoy a midwinter feast with friends and whānau.

  2. Light a candle to remember the dead of the year and to honour their memory.

  3. Write down your hopes, dreams, and aspirations for the year ahead.

  4. Go outside! Look up at the stars – can you see Matariki?

  5. Play games and tell stories. Matariki is about having fun with your loved ones.

  6. Come together with your community for a Matariki ritual that uses the ideas above.

Media contact

Kate Camp, Head of Marketing and Communications | Kaiwahakahaere Whakapā
029 601 0180 (+64 29 601 0180)