Mak­ing Matariki a ris­ing star in the Kiwi cal­en­dar

Kapi-Mana News - - CONVERSATIONS - CHELSEA MCLAUGH­LIN

For those who com­plain that New Zealand lacks na­tional events that iden­tify us, there’s an an­swer star­ing us in the face at this time of year.

Matariki, a fes­ti­val that marks the Maori new year, is cel­e­brated when the star clus­ter Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sis­ters, rises in the sky dur­ing win­ter.

Now our na­tional mu­seum wants to el­e­vate the tra­di­tional Maori fes­ti­val into one of our most sig­nif­i­cant an­nual events.

A 10-day fes­ti­val called Matariki Ris­ing, which be­gan on Fri­day, is the first step in a fouryear plan by Te Papa to in­crease the pro­file of the fes­ti­val.

Other than Wai­tangi Day and An­zac Day, many of our cel­e­bra­tions are based on tra­di­tions from other parts of the world, such as Guy Fawkes night, says fes­ti­val di­rec­tor Charles Royal.

‘‘We think there’s scope and op­por­tu­nity to el­e­vate Matariki to be an event of na­tional iden­tity. Some­thing that’s uni­fy­ing and cel­e­bra­tory of ev­ery­body.’’

There is a de­sire to place events on the na­tional cal­en­dar that are more in keeping with this part of the world, he says.

‘‘Matariki is very much about what’s go­ing on in Aotearoa New Zealand, and is in­dige­nous in the sense that it’s grow­ing from this soil.’’

Rais­ing the pro­file of the event each year will lead, he hopes, to ‘‘some kind of crescendo in 2020 ... where we hope we can get the event to where we be­lieve it will be’’.

It is a time for re­newal, and Matariki Ris­ing be­gins with a rit­ual evening to cel­e­brate this. The open­ing event on Fri­day fea­tured the light­ing of a fire and Maori sto­ries of cre­ation.

Royal says it is an event for peo­ple to come to­gether. The public were in­vited to place small to­kens of their loved ones in the fire to hon­our, farewell and ac­knowl­edge them and the year just passed, and to of­fer grat­i­tude and thoughts for the year to come.

Other events at Te Papa in­clude Nga Kai o Matariki: Cel­e­brat­ing Maori Cui­sine, Sto­ry­telling for Kids, and Kau­matua Kapa Haka.

In ad­di­tion, Matariki Ris­ing events are tak­ing place at other venues in­clud­ing Pataka Art + Mu­seum, Ma­hara Gallery in Waikanae, Dowse Art Mu­seum, Ex­pres­sions Whiri­naki Art and En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre, Welling­ton Mu­seum, and Space Place.

Other Matariki events will take place through­out the re­gion dur­ing June and July.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit matarikiris­ing.com.

Charles Royal, right, the di­rec­tor of Te Papa’s Matariki Ris­ing Fes­ti­val, says this year is the first in the mu­seum’s four-year plan to raise the pro­file of Matariki. Left, the con­stel­la­tion.

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