Te Papa research reveals how New Zealanders mark Matariki

As the Mānawatia a Matariki exhibition opens, Te Papa is sharing nationwide research and visitor insights that show how New Zealanders are embracing the indigenous New Year.

The museum has also released its Matariki events programme including Taikura Kapa Haka, and launched new online resources at https://tepapa.nz/matariki

A nationwide poll conducted for Te Papa showed that 50% of all New Zealanders took action to mark Matariki in 2022.

  • 19% of the New Zealand population looked at the Matariki star cluster in the night sky

  • 11% went to a community Matariki event

  • 11% went to a Matariki event for whānau or friends

  • 11% watched a Matariki event online or on television

  • 3% went to a hautapu ceremony

  • 12% took some other action to learn more about Matariki

  • NB: adds up to more than 50% because of people doing multiple activities.

Families with children are more likely to have celebrated Matariki, with Māori, Pasifika, and Asian New Zealanders more likely than average to mark the occasion. Those born in Aotearoa New Zealand and those born overseas are equally likely to mark Matariki.

The survey of 1,000 people was conducted by Kantar Public in August 2022 and is nationally representative.

Te Papa Kaihautū | Māori co-leader Dr Arapata Hakiwai says the research shows how Matariki is becoming a truly national phenomenon.

“When Te Papa started celebrating Matariki twenty-five years ago, we were an outlier. Now we see how Matariki is being embraced by New Zealanders across the board – it’s a mark of how far we have come as a nation,” Dr Hakiwai says.

The museum’s Mānawatia a Matariki exhibition is open again from 2 June to 30 July 2023. An estimated 60,000 people visited the exhibition last year.

Visitors left behind more than 12,000 hand-written notes sharing their pledges for the future with Hiwa-i-te-rangi, the star in the Matariki cluster associated with dreams and aspirations.

Te Papa analysed a sample of 1,641 of the aspirations left behind and found some common themes.

  • Aroha 37%

  • Be connected 21%

  • Act for nature 13%

  • Make change 7%

  • Thrive in te ao Māori 5%

  • Serve community 5%

  • Support whānau 4%

Messages ranged from the profound: To leave this world a better place for my tamariki. To bring back nature, for humans to learn they are part of nature + walk harmoniously with it, to the practical: Ka whakapai au I taku ruma moe. [To clean my bedroom].

Matariki is a time of year to remember those who have passed, and a number of visitors left personal messages about loved ones for Pōhutukawa, the star of remembrance.

Dr Hakiwai says the pledges left in the exhibition show that visitors are connecting with Matariki on a deep and personal level.

“The pledges left by visitors show how people understand that Matariki is a time for remembrance, connection and hope for the future.”

“It is really moving to look through all those handwritten notes and see how people are connecting with Matariki on such a personal level,” Dr Hakiwai says.

Media contact: Kate Camp, kate.camp@tepapa.govt.nz, 029 601 0180

Matariki images for download

  1. Professor Rangi Matamua at the Matariki hautapu ceremony at Te Papa, 24 June 2022. Photo credit: Te Papa.

  2. Crowds gather on the Wellington waterfront to watch the Matariki hautapu ceremony on the big screen outside Te Papa, 24 June 2022. Photo credit: Te Papa.

  3. Visitors in the Mānawatia a Matariki exhibition at Te Papa, 2022. Photo credit: Te Papa.

  4. Pledges left by visitors to the Mānawatia a Matariki exhibition at Te Papa, 2022. Photo credit: Te Papa.

  5. Visitors at the Mānawatia a Matariki exhibition remembering the past, celebrating the present, and naming their hopes for the future. 2023. Photo credit: Te Papa.

  6. Visitors colouring in wall art showing different activities celebrating Matariki, 2023. Photo credit: Te Papa.

  7. Professor Rangi Matamua hangs up his Matariki pledge, 2023. Photo credit: Te Papa.

Mānawatia a Matariki exhibition. At Te Papa Friday 2 June to Sunday 30 July. Free entry.

Sample pledges left by visitors to Mānawatia a Matariki in 2022

Manuhiri could make pledges in three categories: Whānau, Te Taiao (nature) and Hāpori (community).

Whānau | Family

  • I will reconnect with my extended whanau (cousins, aunties and uncles) and form deeper bonds with them. I will learn more about my ancestors and my whanau tree.

  • Whakarongo, whakawhiti kōrero, waiata atu, aroha atu, noho puku, āta whakarongo. [Listening and sharing conversation. As well as singing and sending love to everyone.]

  • Focus more time on teaching & passing on what I learn in te reo to my Son.

  • Celebrating with family, looking at the stars & loving each other.

  • I will call my nan more.

  • I will stay in touch with my little sister, so she knows I love her and support her from across the ocean.

  • Ka whakapai au I taku ruma moe. [To clean my bedroom.]

Te Taiao | Nature

  • To leave this world a better place for my tamariki. To bring back nature, for humans to learn they are part of nature + walk harmoniously with it.

  • Kia kaha tātau ki te tiaki i to tātau Taiao, o tatau tuakana, otira i to tātau tamariki mokopuna hoki. [Be strong in looking after our environment, our elders, and our children and grandchildren.]

  • My pledge is to look up + value, appreciate the stars!

  • Buy less clothing! Go hiking more and eat healthy food - living eco friendly.

  • I wish for less pollution, waste and landfill. So the next generation will enjoy a clean earth.

  • Whakamihia ki te taiao, ki ngā tūpuna o ngā mahi i mua ake i a rātou. Awhina ate ki te taiao. [Give thanks to the environment and our ancestors who came before us. Look after the environment.]

  • I am going to fix up my vegetable garden!

Hāpori | Community

  • I pledge to commitment to te tiriti o Waitangi. I want to start te reo lessons/classes.

  • I will check in on the mental health of my mates.

  • Ako Te reo Māori, kia kaha ki tatou reo. [learn te reo, be strong in our reo.]

  • I want to say a nice thing to a stranger everyday! :)

  • Arrange regular events to have people within my local community connect, support, and build community spirit.

  • I will get involved with a community garden, and find a volunteering role to help create community!

  • Me mahi tahi tātou hei oranga mō te iwi. [We should work together for the betterment of our people.]

Te Papa Matariki events

Te Papa has a range of public events on 14, 15, and 16 July including concerts, films, panel talks and craft activities. All events are free. Full event listings on the website Matariki 2023 at Te Papa | Te Papa