The evolution of Matariki at Te Papa
Te Whakanui a Te Papa i a Matariki

Matariki is a midwinter event that provides diverse New Zealanders with an enjoyable and positive way to engage with, learn about, and experience aspects of Māori culture.

Similarly, Māori artists and creatives look forward to Matariki as it’s one of the few regularly occurring events throughout New Zealand where Māori arts, music, and storytelling are continuously engaged with and supported. 

Matariki celebrations at Te Papa
Ngā Whakahaere i Te Papa

The annual Matariki celebrations at Te Papa first took place in 2001.

Since that time – over a period of some 16 years – we have taken a leadership role in evolving the modern day Matariki celebration.

These celebrations have taken many forms including storytelling, dance, music, Māori cuisine, lectures, seminars, celebratory dinners, and much more.

Our Matariki celebrations have also been supported by education resources and online information about Matariki.

Since 2001, Matariki has steadily grown in stature and today it’s well-known throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

Almost every community in the country marks and celebrates Matariki in some way and it’s a very popular topic of study in our schools.

It’s primed to be uplifted even further as a distinctive Aotearoa-New Zealand cultural event and expression.

An Indigenous Event of National Identity
He Hui Whakanui i te Motu Whānui

In 2016, Te Papa began developing a bold, new plan to elevate Matariki to be ‘an indigenous event of national identity’.

We believe that Matariki can be strengthened to become a true and distinctive Aotearoa-New Zealand cultural event that can help meet the need for New Zealanders to have our own events of cultural and national significance.

People light tea lights and put them on the pond outside of Te Papa

Caption

People light tea lights and put them on the pond outside of Te Papa, 2017. Te Papa

As Aotearoa-New Zealand moves further into the 21st century – as life changes and in many ways - questions continue to arise as to who we are as a country and what is important to us. In exploring these questions, a particular consideration is how indigenous Māori culture can contribute positively to shaping a satisfying answer to these questions. A feature of the formation of Aotearoa-New Zealand of the future, therefore, relates to how indigenous Māori culture can help shape our national identity, character and personality for generations to come. Matariki is an ideal vehicle where such experiments and explorations can take place.

We see Matariki emerging as a distinctive Aotearoa-New Zealand legacy, cultural event that will sit alongside similar events throughout the world – such as the running of the bulls in Spain, the Chinese Lantern Festival, the Day of the Dead in Mexico, Mardi Gras in Brazil, and the blossom festival of Japan (to name just a few).

Our goal
Ngā Whāinga

Our goal is to create an enduring cultural event that finds its way into the hearts and minds of diverse New Zealanders and becomes part of the legacy of what it means to be a New Zealander.

In pursuing this goal, we have the following objectives in mind:

  • Deepening the connection with indigenous knowledge and indigeneity
  • Transforming the central Matariki event so that it is attractive and welcoming to diverse audiences and communities
  • Moving the event from a general mid-winter celebration of Māori culture to a specifically themed event about national identity and Matariki itself
  • As Matariki is a ‘New Years’ celebration, ‘renewal’ is the theme and purpose of the event overall
  • Articulating three sub-themes:
    • Whānau+Rēhia: Families and fun, entertainment
    • Whānau+Ako: Families and learning
    • Whānau+Kai: Families and food

We want to create and sustain a beautiful and inspiring distinctive New Zealand legacy cultural event that honours and celebrates who we are and our island home; that celebrates and honours the year just passed and expresses our hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future.