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Celebrate Matariki and the Māori New Year in Wellington

Winter has just rolled into Welly which means it's time to kickstart the Matariki celebrations and ring in the Māori New Year. From stargazing at Space Place to light shows in the Wairarapa, mark your calendar for the arrival of the Matariki cluster of stars (or Pleiades) from 25 June and take your pick from the celebratory events below.

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The meaning of Matariki

Taking its name from a cluster of stars which rise and become visible in the pre-dawn sky in June, Matariki signals the beginning of the Māori New Year and traditionally the brighter the star cluster, the more plentiful the coming season's harvest. This year the Matariki constellation will be visible in the night sky from 25 June to 3 July 2019. For more on the meaning of Matariki, check out Te Papa's excellent online resource here.


Matariki Ritual
Fri 14 & Sat 15 June, 7pm-8.30pm, Te Papa
Gather at Te Papa for a traditional Matariki ritual, featuring lots of stories of renewal, Māori storytelling and the chance to write down your own hopes and dreams and place them in a community basket.

Ngā Whetū o Rongowhakaata: Kapa Haka for Matariki
Sun 16 June, 12pm & 3pm, Level 4, Te Papa
Continue the Matariki celebrations at Te Pap as the young generation of Rongowhakaata iwi here in Wellington share their teachings and skills of home through haka and waiata.

Matariki ki Pōneke - Ahi Kā
Fri 21 June, 6pm, Whairepo Lagoon, Wellington Waterfront
Celebrate and learn about the Māori New Year with fire, food, friends and whānau. See some of the nation's finest Māori performers and storytellers and experience a beautiful light parade featuring creative talent from local schools. FREE event.

Ahi ka
Ahi Kā

Feast Matariki
Fri 21 June - 7 July, various locations
Toast Matariki the traditional way - with great food and wine from across the region. The Wellington Culinary Events Trust in partnership with the Wellington City Council and Eat New Zealand are bringing the first Feast Matariki event to the capital to acknowledge the manaakitanga (or hospitality) that's so important to kiwi culture. 

Matariki Celebration at Space Place
Sun 23 June, 5pm, Carter Observatory
Head to Space Place for an evening of live music from Shearwater Drift and Kuki Koori set to intergalactic moving images. There'll be activities for the kids, unique stories and talks, and a traditional hangi to tuck into after you've worked up an appetite.

Matariki at Te Māra a Tāne / Matariki at ZEALANDIA
Wed 26 June - Sat 6 July, ZEALANDIA
Go on a fun family Sanctuary Star Search, visit the Star Station and design a star to take home or leave on the Zealandia night sky mural. Share Matariki tales and waiata with storyteller Moira Wairama. Learn about the Maramataka (Māori Lunar Calendar) and Matariki with astrophysicist, Dr Pauline Harris. View the night sky through the Wellington Astronomical Society’s telescopes and more.

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Matariki ki Poneke - Wellington Sky Show
Sat 29 June, 6.30pm, Wellington Waterfront
Gather your friends and family and celebrate Māori New Year at this spectacular fireworks display over Wellington harbour. Find the perfect perch on the waterfront just after dusk and see the sky light up. FREE event.

Tangi Te Keo Matariki Dawn Viewing
Sat 29 June, 5am, Mount Victoria
Make your way to the top of Mount Victoria to see first-hand the dawn rising of the Matariki cluster of stars. Telescopes will be provided so you can capture those epic early morning views. FREE event.

Matariki at Wellington Zoo
Sat 29 & Sun 30 June, 9.30am-5pm, Wellington Zoo
Visit the zoo between 10.30am-11.30am and 12.30pm-1.30pm and join in a bunch of fun Matariki activities. Make your own Matariki lantern to light up the winter sky; learn the Te Reo Māori names of the animals who live at the Zoo; and give the animals harakeke whetū (flax star) enrichment to keep them busy.

Matariki Concert 
Sat 6 July, 5.30pm-7.30pm, Thistle Hall
Celebrate with music and dance at this community concert being held as part of Thistle Hall's Te Whironui exhibition. You'll see performances by Al Fraser, Mal Gray and Tuhiwai Hendrix. FREE event

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Hutt Valley

Matariki Whānau Festival
Saturday 29 June, 4pm-7pm, Frederick Wise Park, Lower Hutt
Bundle up the whole family for this spectacular mix of live music, kapa haka, hip hop dancing, rides, entertainment and much more. Write a message of love on a lantern, make a wish and place it into Te Waka a Rangi (Heavenly Waka), then join a procession of light. End your evening with a bang after dark when fireworks light up the sky. Rain day 30 June. FREE event


Tīrama Matariki Light Glow
Fri 31 May, Sat 1 & Sun 2 June, 5pm-8pm, Queen Elizabeth Park, Masterton
Make your way to Queen Elizabeth Park and explore gorgeous fairylight walkways and features inspired by the nine stars of Matariki. Write a wish on a water lantern and release it on the Lake of Remembrance, and bring your gold coins for a night ride on the fun train. FREE event

Matariki and the Winter Solstice
Sat 22 June, 4pm, Stonehenge Aotearoa
Learn about the ancient meaning and significance of Matariki and its relationship to the solstices and equinoxes, then see the sun set over the winter solstice heelstone and enjoy a shared meal. 

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Family Fun Weekend at Aratoi
Sat 29 & Sun 30 June, 10am-2pm, Aratoi Museum of Art & History, Masterton
Enjoy a fun filled weekend with the whole family discovering the meaning of Matariki. Make an instrument to take home, listen to stories in the Star Dome and explore an interactive trail around the museum galleries. FREE event

Matariki Celebration at Pūkaha 
Sat 6 July, Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre
Make your way to Pūkaha and spend the day learning about Māori traditions and how they connect with the forest. You'll learn weaving, clay flute (uku) making, hear ancient stories, and see kapa haka performances. Take a night tour of the forest and learn about the relationship between the forest and the stars.