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How NZers mark Matariki

The story of Matariki, its meaning, and its purpose. Kathryn George/Stuff. Click here to view the video.

Eda Tang, Te Papa research reveals how New Zealanders mark Matariki, Te Papa, 2 June 2023

As Te Papa opened its Mānawatia a Matariki​ exhibition today, it shared nationwide research and visitor insights into how New Zealanders marked the indigenous new year.

Around 50% of New Zealanders took action to mark Matariki last year with 19% of the New Zealand population looking at the Matariki star cluster in the night sky.

New Zealanders also went to Matariki events in the community (11%) or for whānau (11%), watched a Matariki event online or on television (11%), went to a hautapu ceremony (3%), or took some other action to learn more about Matariki (12%).

Families with children were more likely to have celebrated Matariki, with Māori, Pasifika, and Asian New Zealanders more likely than average to mark the occasion.

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

Visitors to Te Papa’s Mānawatia a Matariki left behind over 12,000 handwritten notes sharing their pledges for the future. TE PAPA/SUPPLIED

Te Papa Kaihautū Māori co-leader Dr Arapata Hakiwai​ said the research shows how Matariki is “becoming a truly national phenomenon”.

“When Te Papa started celebrating Matariki 25 years ago, we were an outlier. Now we see how Matariki is being embraced by New Zealanders across the board”, said Hakiwai. “It’s a mark of how far we have come as a nation.”

The Mānawatia a Matariki exhibition is back on at Te Papa until the end of July. TE PAPA/SUPPLIED

The museum’s Mānawatia a Matariki exhibition is open until 30 July 2023. Last year, visitors to the exhibition left behind over 12,000 handwritten notes sharing their pledges for the future with Hiwa-i-te-rangi, the star associated with dreams and aspirations.

Te Papa analysed a sample of 1641 of the aspirations and found common themes of aroha (37%), connectedness (21%), action for nature (13%), change-making (7%), thriving in te ao Māori (5%), community service (5%) and supporting whānau (4%).

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

Messages ranged from “To bring back nature, for humans to learn they are part of nature and walk harmoniously with it” to “ka whakapai au i taku ruma moe” – “I will clean my bedroom”.

Visitors to the exhibition made pledges to whānau, te taiao and hāpori. TE PAPA/SUPPLIED.

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

Visitors made pledges in three categories: whānau, te taiao and hāpori.

“I will call my nan more,” wrote one visitor.

“Whakamihia ki te taiao, ki ngā tūpuna o ngā mahi i mua ake i a rātou. Awhina ate ki te taiao”, wrote another who wanted to give thanks to the environment, the ancestors and the work before them, and look after the environment.

One guest wrote as a pledge, “I will get involved with a community garden, and find a volunteering role to help create community!”

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.

Last year, Matariki was celebrated for the first time as a national public holiday on Friday June 24. Because Matariki is a period of weeks and marks the sighting of the star cluster, also known as Pleiades, Matariki takes place between late May to early July.

This year the public holiday falls on Friday, July 14. The theme for this year is Matariki Kāinga Hokia​ –Matariki calls you home.

See also: Te Papa Research Reveals How New Zealanders Mark Matariki

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Lynley Crosswell, Museums Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne VIC 3001, © CAMD 2023
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