News | 10 July 2020
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The stars come out to shine for Matariki

Experience Matariki like never before as we celebrate the Māori New Year with both live and digital events, art, exhibitions, workshops and online activities.

Image of fire in brazier at 2019 Matariki festival

This year, two WAITUHI projects have been commissioned to mark Matariki, with the WAITUHI flags at Frank Kitts Park accompanied by a new mural under the City to Sea Bridge along Jervois Quay.

Both WAITUHI projects have been designed by well-known artists – the flags by David Hakaraia, and the 30-meter banner with 21 panels by Wayne Youle. 

Meanwhile, the Courtenay Place Park light boxes exhibition space features artist Martin Awa Clarke Langdon’s To Turn Night into Day photographic series based around elements of what Matariki means to him.

These artworks all celebrate Matariki as a time for reflection and remembrance, and this year it is so much more poignant following the Covid-19 experience, says Māori Partnerships portfolio leader, Councillor Jill Day.

“Our Matariki festival has been re-imagined this year, but it is still all about our tamariki, friends and whānau, reflection and remembrance, connectedness and kōrero, kai and ahi kā, toi mahi and te ao Māori.

“These events, artworks and exhibitions are so significant as part of Matariki in 2020, as it’s important we reflect on what’s been a challenging time, and reconnect as a city and a country after having been isolated from our communities.

“Together and apart, we can celebrate what we have and what challenges we’ve overcome, and this theme will be woven through all the events, arts and activities happening around the city.”

Our Wellington City Libraries are celebrating Matariki this year with Purapura Whetū – a special festival of events, crafts and storytelling for tamariki and their whānau.

Listen to Matariki Storytimes in te reo Māori and English online, in our branches, and even by torchlight. You can even make your very own star to add to our city-wide web of stars. Or find out whether kiwis can fly when Anna Bailey and her String Bean Puppets tell the magical tale Once in a Full Moon.

The number of events, arts and cultural activities happening in the capital means there’s something for everyone over the next month, says Mayor Andy Foster.

“Alongside entertaining, thought provoking events and light projections you will also be able to enjoy the many artworks, exhibitions and murals around the city. The festival will be launched by mana whenua at Te Wharewaka, which will also be host to weaving displays and demonstrations, and a chance to meet local artist Taupuruariki Brightwell.

“Matariki festival is the biggest mid-winter event for 2020, and is part of re-energising our city. It is also an opportunity for our local artists and performers to showcase their talents, and provides over 250 jobs for hard hit arts and events industries.

“Council, Wellington.NZ and the arts and events sectors are working hard to put together an exciting, full events programme for the rest of the year – and heading into 2021. We want to give everyone lots of reasons to enjoy visiting the heart of our capital city – we’ll be providing further details about our future plans soon.”

Other Matariki events, activities and exhibitions around Wellington:

  • Ahi Kā projection show: 17, 18, 19 and 23, 24, 25, 26 July | Large scale projection show on Te Papa over seven evenings.
  • Ahi Kā Live: 17, 18, 24 and 25 July | Over two Fridays and Saturdays in Odlins Plaza there will be live entertainment, warm fires and kai.
  • Matariki narrative: Fri 17, Sat 18, Fri 24, Sat 25 July | Mana Moana showcase on a big screen in Odlins Plaza | Live performances featuring local traditional and contemporary artists, fire and kai in Odlins Plaza
  • Tūrama: 20-23 July | Tūrama (illuminate) will cast light into Wellington’s night sky. Made from nine woven beams of light, it symbolises a connection to the stars of Matariki and Puanga.  Tūrama also signifies our strength as a community. It will provide an opportunity for whānau and neighbours to reflect on the Matariki themes of remembrance and renewal.
  • Mana Tangata Matariki Kōrero from 13 July | An educational and informative free Zoom series featuring local iwi and Māori from around the Motu sharing knowledge and kaupapa Māori. Live streamed via Council’s YouTube/Facebook channels
  • Te reo Matariki workshop at Toi Pōneke on Saturday 25 July
  • Toi Pōneke’s Matariki exhibition featuring Rebekah Rasmussen
  • The 9 stars of the Matariki constellation will be displayed on the bank of Macalister Park
  • ZEALANDIA is hosting a star search Matariki event on 18-19 July
  • Capital E is hosting a series of Matariki activities to celebrate the Māori New Year
  • The City Gallery has a number of events, activities and free movies to mark Matariki
  • Te Papa has displays, activities and online offerings during Matariki
  • Tanya Te Miringa Te Rorarangi Ruka’s Kōhatu Tipua (Supernatural Stones) has been commissioned for Matariki and is screening in Masons Lane

This year’s Sky Show has been postponed with a date yet to be confirmed, as planning and preparation has been impacted by uncertainty about Covid-19 restrictions.