Matariki in Tauranga Moana

The Mauao Milky Way. Photo: Alan Ludlam.

Tauranga Moana will celebrate big this Maori New Year with the city hosting more than 40 events this month to mark Matariki.

Matariki is particularly special this year – with Friday, June 24, being the first time the occasion will be celebrated as a public holiday in Aotearoa.

Tauranga’s Jack Thatcher, a master navigator, walked the summit of Mauao early Tuesday morning as part of his nearly 30-year tradition and to share the significance of Matariki. “Matariki is probably one of the oldest observations that our ancestors made…it helps us with retaining traditional knowledge that links to our heritage.

“Some of our tohunga would go up and they would make observations of certain celestial bodies and they foretold good things and they showed less than good times…and then that determines how your life might be over the next year,” says Jack.

“The other thing is we like to remember who we are – we celebrate our present, so where we are today,” says Jack.

Something for everyone (sidehead)

This month offers something for everyone to enjoy as part of Matariki celebrations in Tauranga Moana from live music and performances to art exhibitions, film showcases, workshops, family events and much more.

Spend time with friends and whanau at the Matariki Village market at the Historic Village listening to music, delighting in delicious kai and learn a new skill such as how to plant by maramataka, the Maori lunar calendar.

Soar a kite into the sky at Ferguson Park or test out your culinary skills at the Parāoa Parai, Fried Bread workshop. Or discover the diverse and unique stories of Tauranga Moana by exploring historic images, maps, publications, audio, and more at the Pae Korokī Drop-ins.

Maumaharatanga (sidehead)

The Matariki Film Festival will also take place in the newly-repurposed Village Cinema, featuring documentaries, short films, music videos and special talks by Maori filmmakers.

“Pōhutukawa is the star within the Matariki cluster that is associated with those that have passed since the last rising of Matariki,” says Okorore Ngā Toi Māori Gallery and Studios co-ordinator Kalena Egan.

“We remember those of our loved ones that have passed in the last year or so and so that’s really important. Maumaharatanga is what we call that – remembrance,” says Jack.

If people wish, they can share pictures and a bit about the special people from their lives who have passed away in the past year to be shared on the Village Cinema screen.

“Matariki is important because it’s about traditional knowledge handed down through the generations to where we are today,” says Jack. “We did get lost for a little while but we’ve reinvigorated the Matariki celebration and have been piecing together what we believe our ancestors would have celebrated.”

Tauranga Moana Matariki celebrations run until July 19. See all event details at:


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