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Te Papa Celebrates Maori New Year

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Te Papa Celebrates Maori New Year

In early June the star cluster Matariki (the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters) will reappear in our dawn skies, staying for almost 12 months.

The Māori New Year begins with the first new moon after Matariki's reappearance and, from 10 June, Te Papa is bringing this special celebratory period to all people of Aotearoa New Zealand with an 18-day Matariki Festival (

The theme of this year's celebration, 'Waka - the journeying and coming together of people', resonates throughout Te Papa's exciting Matariki events programme, which includes a comedy extravaganza, modern and traditional music and dance, Star Lab sessions, and special activities for children.

Seven specially selected taonga (treasures) will be on display on Rongomaraeroa, Te Papa's marae on Level 4. For Māori ancestors, Matariki's stars foretold whether it would be an abundant or lean season for food. The taonga on display, used in gathering, harvesting, and preserving of traditional foods, are a window on the past and demonstrate the skill, ingenuity, and knowledge of Māori ancestors. One of Te Papa's curators will give free floortalks on 10 & 17 June, exploring the ways in which these unique taonga were used.

Don't miss the Seven Sisters and Seven Brothers concerts featuring Bella Kalolo and Leon Wharekura, and a dozen other top home-grown performers, or the Matariki arts and crafts village where Māori and Pacific artists will display traditional jewellery, and demonstrate their skills in weaving, carving, and tā moko.

2010 sees the return of the hugely popular Kaumātua Kapa Haka on Saturday 12 & Sunday 13 June. Featuring senior performing groups from across Aotearoa New Zealand, this event is a unique opportunity to see popular items performed by leading exponents of the art. Can't make it to Te Papa? This event will be streamed live on the internet to communities around the country and the world on - so tell your family and friends, and join us as the drama and magic of this remarkable event unfolds.

The annual Matariki Gala at Te Papa has become a highlight of Wellington's social calendar, bringing together the city's cultural, artistic, and corporate communities to celebrate the Māori New Year.

This year's event features a stellar line-up of entertainers, including Ngā Tai e Wha performing all time Māori favourites; Samuel Family Dancers tapping up a storm; Bella Kalolo belting out edgy soul; Ngā Divo Māori singing opera classics; and Leon Wharekura and band taking you through to midnight. Seats are limited and reservations are essential. Call Sonya Davis on (04) 3817006, or email at to book. All bookings will be confirmed upon receipt of payment. A percentage of all ticket sales will be donated to the Matariki Education Fund. The fund provides Te Papa with the ability to offer an educational experience to children who would otherwise miss out on such an opportunity.

Other highlights include the fun-filled Te Huka ā Tai Whānau Day on Sunday 20 June with storytelling, games, and hands-on crafts for all the family; the opening weekend of Paperskin: the art of tapa cloth, featuring a moko village, Pacific dance, a fashion show, and tapa demonstrations; and taonga pūoro (traditional Māori musical instruments) performances.

Te Papa thanks the following companies and organisations for their generous support of the Matariki Festival at Te Papa: NZ Post, TelstraClear, The Southern Trust, Te Puni Kkiri, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Māngai Pāho, and Wellington City Council. Te Papa also welcomes Matariki Education Fund sponsor, Crown Forestry Rental Trust.

Matariki is a time to reflect, and a time to spend with family and friends - a time to appreciate the people around us. Come and celebrate the Māori New Year at Te Papa!

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