Stars align for Māori New Year

A past Matariki sky over Mauao. Photo: Alan Ludlam.

A live art event – with one of Tauranga’s most well-known contemporary multi-disciplinary artists on duty – will launch a month of Matariki celebrations in the Bay of Plenty.

Multi-disciplinary artist, designer and Pāpāmoa resident Graham Hoete – known as Mr G – will create a mural live at Pāpāmoa Library this Saturday, June 8.

Te Rina Kairau, from Tauranga City Libraries, says it’s the first time they’ve staged an event of this kind.

“The theme is Waitī, Waitā and Wairakei, which is the name of the awa [stream] which runs beside the library, so our artist wanted to do something special to do with all creatures that live in the ocean and fresh water,” says Te Rina.

“Mr G wants his art to represent many things so he’s not giving a name to it. He describes it as a ‘self-interpretive’ piece of art that each person can see something different in.”

Te Rina says locals are invited to watch the painting throughout the day. There will be a karakia at 8.30am before the library opens at 9.30am. Throughout the day, authors will read their books in both Māori and English and there’s lunchtime entertainment.

Matariki Te Tauranga o ngā Waka 2024

In Tauranga and across the Western Bay of Plenty, Te Mātahi o te Tau – the Māori New Year – is being ushered in with a star-studded, month-long event programme – called Matariki Te Tauranga o ngā Waka 2024 – which begins this Saturday, June 8.

Matariki Te Tauranga o ngā Waka 2024 has a wide range of activities across the rohe (region) including workshops, exhibitions, live performances and family events.

This year’s event programme embraces the themes Waitī and Waitā, two of the stars in the Matariki cluster. Waitī signifies fresh water and Waitā saltwater.

Both stars represent all living creatures and food sources sustained within their waters.

Multi-disciplinary artist, designer and Pāpāmoa resident Graham Hoete.

Events include the annual Matariki Maumaharatanga Ceremony at the summit of Mauao, a day of celebration at Pāpāmoa Library, a whānau day at the Historic Village, an augmented reality sculpture trail, exhibitions, performances and more. Find the programme at:

Renewal and celebration

Tauranga City Council strategic māori engagement manager Carlo Ellis says Matariki heralds a time of renewal and celebration and for communities to come together across the motu – country.

“It is a time of remembrance, gratitude and resetting our goals for the coming year.

“Matariki celebrations aim to build understanding and enlightenment of Te Ao Māori [Māori world view], mātauranga Māori [Māori knowledge] and te reo Māori [the Māori language].”

Carlo says the arrival of Matariki is a sign for people to gather, remember those who have passed, celebrate the present and new life, and a time to make plans for the future.

“It’s a time to spend with whānau and friends, enjoy kai [food], waiata [song], tākaro [games] and haka.

“The saying ‘Matariki hunga nui’ embraces the many people of Matariki. Matariki is underpinned by whakapapa, a sense of connectedness signifying the importance of family and community. It’s a time for all New Zealanders to come together.”

Carlo says Matariki is about celebrating who we were, who we are, and who we want to be.

“With each passing year, there is growing recognition of the significance of Matariki and its importance to our country’s cultural identity and heritage. This year we encourage our community to embrace saying ‘happy Matariki’ in te reo Māori, which translates as ‘Ngā mihi o Matariki, te tau hou Māori’.”

This year also marks Aotearoa’s third official celebration of Matariki, with a public holiday on Friday, June 28.

For more information on Matariki or events, visit: or pick up an event booklet from Tauranga City Libraries.



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