News | 22 May 2023
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Puanga and Matariki stars the star of the show

‘Matariki Ahi Kā’ will be the time to celebrate the Māori New Year in a uniquely Wellington way, with a spectacular, free, whānau-friendly experience on the Wellington Waterfront.

Mana Moana Pōneke - A Call to Kāinga, by Dr Karlo Mila & Michael Bridgman. Photography: Jeff McEwan.
Nō Rua, nō Mango, nō runga i te rangi, at Matariki Ahi Kā. Photography by Storybox.

This special mid-winter event is happening Thursday 13 – Sunday 16 July around the Wellington waterfront and will include a kai court, and an opportunity to honour our culture and history with an immersive walk-through journey including large-scale projections, fire, and performances in multiple locations.


In the lead-up to Ahi Kā and during the long weekend, enjoy Mana Moana Pōneke – a series of indigenous short films about our ocean, projected on water, in Whairepo Lagoon. Mana Moana Pōneke is a collaboration between Māori and Pasifika musicians, artists, writers, and choreographers.  


Also, join us for the 'Hiwa-i-te-rangi: the Wishing Star' and 'Pōhutukawa: Honouring those who have passed' ceremonies at 8pm each evening. Everyone is invited to write down their wishes and thoughts, which will be burnt in a brazier to ceremoniously send to the stars.


There will also be artworks, activities and exhibitions as part of the celebrations around the city.


Matariki programme


The rising of Puanga (also known as the star Rigel in Orion) and the Matariki star cluster (Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters) mark the start of the Māori New Year. The celebration of the Māori New Year dates back more than 700 years and is accompanied by long-established traditions.


Puanga can only be seen by a few iwi – those who are in parts of the Far North, Taranaki, Whanganui, Wellington, the Hutt Valley, and parts of the South Island.  Puanga is the star acknowledged by our mana whenua iwi Te Āti Awa, while Ngāti Toa acknowledge the Matariki cluster.  In Wellington we can see both Puanga and Matariki.


Mayor Tory Whanau says the celebration of Matariki and Puanga is guided by several values.


“Puanga and Matariki are a time to get together, to restore faith and hope for the future, to celebrate whanaungatanga (kinship), to be with others, to share stories and kai, and plan to work towards a more sustainable future.


“We invite everyone to join us to celebrate the rising of Puanga and Matariki as a time to reflect on our loved ones who have passed, and to prepare for the New Year, as we enter the colder months.


Like a number of other Councils around the country, Wellington City Council has decided that fireworks will no longer be a part of Matariki celebrations. Many things have influenced this decision including aligning with public sentiment and national guidance on the removal of fireworks during Matariki.


Mayor Whanau says work is underway to find a suitable alternative occasion for a major fireworks display.

“An option I asked Council officers to investigate is whether we could hold a fireworks display after one of the FIFA Women’s World Cup matches in Wellington – that would be a wonderful way to show our support for women’s sport.”

The Council’s City Events team is currently in discussion with FIFA about logistics and a suitable opportunity for a fireworks display during the event.


For more information, visit the Council’s Facebook page and visit for the full programme of events.