Topic: Tauranga Moana Matariki Festival (2016)

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In 2016 the Tauranga Moana Matariki Advistory Committee organised the 2016 Tauranga Moana Matariki Festival. This was the festival's 15th year in Tauranga.

The 2016 Tauranga Moana Matariki Festival delivered more than 40 events, exhibitions and workshops. It was proudly brought to you and supported by Tauranga City Council, Tauranga City Libraries, Baycourt, Te Puna i Rangiriri Trust, Creative Tauranga, Department of Conservation, Coastcare, Tauranga Art Gallery, Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, House of Science EmployNZ, the NZ Kite Flyers Association, Te Reo Wainene o Tua and Haka Boy Films.

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Tauranga Moana Matariki Festival: Hikoi Tahi (6 June 2016) 

Jack Thatcher at the Hikoi Tahi (6 June 2016). Photo: Awhina August.

Each year the winter stars of Matariki signal the end of one year and the beginning of the next. Traditionally, the rise of Matariki was a sign to ensure food crops had been harvested and the storehouses would be well stocked for the coming New Year. Nowadays Matariki has become a time of revitalisition and resurgence of te reo Maori and matauranga Maori traditions.

Tauranga Moana Matariki Festival: Whanau Day (6 June 2016)

Whanau Day at the base of Mauao (6 June 2016). Photo: Awhina August.

The Tauranga Moana Matariki Festival is back for 2016 for its 15th year in Tauranga from 6 June until 22 July. This year’s festival celebrates ‘Our Place, Our Stories’ with a seven-week-long programme, and offers the perfect opportunity to come together in some of Tauranga’s favourite spaces to share, connect and be entertained at the coming of the Maori New Year.

Tauranga Moana Matariki Festival: Whanau Day (6 June 2016)

Whanau Day at the base of Mauao (6 June 2016). Photo: Awhina August.

The festival provides a great opportunity for people from various backgrounds and ethnic groups to not only celebrate Matariki, but also to immerse themselves in different aspects of the Maori culture. The city will come alive with a diverse and engaging programme including live performances, lectures, family events, dance and art, star-gazing, workshops and nature walks. The majority of Matariki events are either free or gold-coin donation to attend and take place across Tauranga.

Matariki Exhibition: Our Place, Our Stories (2016)

Matariki: Our Place, Our Stories Exhibition at Creative Tauranga. Photo: Debbie McCauley.

Start celebrating Matariki with an unforgettable dawn experience, a Hikoi (walk) up Mauao led by traditional navigator Jack Thatcher, who was awarded the 2013 Te Tohu a te Waka Toi for his contribution to the revitalisation of traditional navigation, and witness the rise of the Matariki star cluster from the city’s iconic peak (6 – 10 June, 5.30am, daily, Mount Beachside Holiday Park).

Matariki 2016: Artefact Digitisation Unit

Artefact Digitisation Unit at Tauranga City Library. Photo: Debbie McCauley.

Schools can join a wide range of workshops and challenges organised by Tauranga City Libraries, Baycourt and Te Puna i Rangiriri Trust in collaboration with the Department of Conservation. Included are astronomy presentations, kite making, and they are invited to experience Matariki via science workshops and to participate in the inaugural Matariki Film Challenge (7 June – 22 July, various times, Mauao campground, Tauranga Libraries, Baycourt, Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic).

Matariki Exhibition: Te Hokowhitu a Tū - Māori Pioneers (2016)

Matariki Exhibition: Te Hokowhitu a Tū - Māori Pioneers at Mauao. Photo: Fiona Kean.

A special Karetao Pūoro (traditional singing puppets) performance presenting Te Ao (the world), an indigenous Maori creation story of how the world came into being, can be enjoyed by children and whanau (14 June, 1pm and 5.45pm, Baycourt).

Matariki Film Challenge (2016)

Tiki Taane and the Matariki Film Challenge. Photo: Richard Robinson.

Well-known speakers will present during the Tauranga City Libraries Matariki Lecture series. Learn how Tauranga-born Frank Kawe, captain of Te Matau a Maui waka and his crew set out on a journey that changed their lives; how Doctor Rangi Matamua’s research influences Maori language revitalisation; and ways to learn from the seasons with Rob McGowan (15 June, 22 June, 6 July, 5.45 – 6.45pm, Tauranga City Council Chambers).

Matariki Performance: Te Ao - The World (14 June 2016)

James Webster at the Karetao Pūoro (singing puppets) performance. Photo: Debbie McCauley.

Discover Tauranga’s culture and heritage by visiting exhibitions that showcase art and artefacts throughout the month of June. The collaborative exhibition “Our Place, Our Stories” at Creative Tauranga will display Tauranga artists’ Matariki themed work representing the diversity of cultures within our community (1 June – 1 July, Creative Tauranga). Tauranga’s Heritage Collection will show an exhibition that commemorates the exploits of the Maori Battalion during the First World War (6 – 10 June at Matariki ki Mauao, 13 June – 18 June and 20 June – 25 June at Masonic Park, 10am – 3.30pm). Discover those who served and contribute to their memory by scanning and uploading your family treasures to Auckland War Memorial Museum’s Artefact Digitisation Unit (31 May – 11 August located at Tauranga City Library: Research Collections).

Matariki Lecture: Māori Astronomy by Doctor Rangi Matamua (2016)

Jack Thatcher & Doctor Rangi Matamua just prior to his lecture on Maori Astronomy. Photo: Debbie McCauley.

Matariki is all about celebrating the arrival of the new year. You are invited to bring whanau and friends to Matariki Kite Day on Sunday, 3 July, 12noon – 4pm at Fergusson Park. Indulge yourself in the festival of fire and light at this year’s IlluminART on Friday, 15 July, 5.30 – 8.15pm at Greerton Village Square and Greerton Village School grounds. The Matariki celebrations will come to an end with the waterfront coming alive with a new winter carnival for the whole family featuring lights, lasers, fire, and food on Saturday and Sunday, 16 and 17 July, 5 – 10pm.

Battle of Te Ranga Commemoration (21 June 2016)

Des Tata at the Battle of Te Ranga Commemoration. Photo: Lee Switzer.


Matariki is the Māori name for the star cluster also known as the Pleiades. While it comprises over 300 stars, only seven are typically seen. In the last few days of May we can observe Matariki rise in the north-eastern horizon just before dawn. The first new moon following the rise of Matariki is called “Te Tahi a Pipiri” or the first day of Pipiri, New Year’s Day.

Mana Rangatahi - Youth Workshop (28 June 2016)

Employ NZ Staff at the Mana Rangatahi - Youth Workshop. Photo: Debbie McCauley.


Traditionally, the appearance of Matariki was the time to ensure food crops had been harvested and storehouses well stocked for the coming year. Matariki was a season for manaakitanga (hospitality) that brought communities together. Visitors were showered with gifts of specially preserved food and other delicacies. Throughout Matariki, Māori learnt from each other, which ensured that traditions like arts, weaving, waiata, performances, wānanga and whakapapa were passed from one generation to the next.

Matariki Kite Day (2016)

Matariki Kite Day 2016. Photo: Debbie McCauley.


Matariki is an opportunity to discuss and acknowledge “our place and our stories” and how they exist in Te Ao Māori. Did you know that the seven poupou (figures) on The Strand in Tauranga were created by local carver James Tapiata to represent Matariki? Also, in 2005 the first celestial compass in New Zealand was erected at Sulphur Point in Tauranga. It demonstrates how Polynesian travellers once navigated the Pacific using the heavens as their guide. Four pou face north, south, east and west. Between them are plain posts that represent the full horizon.

Matariki Lecture: The Renaissance of the Voyaging Canoe by Frank Kawe (2016)

The Renaissance of the Voyaging Canoe - Lecture by Frank Kawe. Photo: Debbie McCauley. 


Nowadays Matariki is typically about the revitalisation and resurgence of te reo Māori and mātauranga Māori traditions. While few Māori live in what is considered a traditional Māori setting, we still carry on the rituals of gathering to reflect upon the past year, share experiences, plan activities and acknowledge those who have passed during the year.

In 1993, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Otepou revived the Matariki celebrations in Tauranga with an early morning trek up the Kopukairoa Mountain. This is where the first sighting of Matariki is celebrated in our moana with karakia (prayer) and waiata to acknowledge the arrival of the New Year. During Matariki we celebrate who we are, consent to new beginnings, plan for the future, prepare for imminent trends and look for guidance to show us the way forward.

Matariki Lecture: Rongoa Maori by Rob McGowan (2016)

Rongoa Maori by Rob McGowan. Photo: Debbie McCauley.


Māori astronomical understanding was entrenched in pre-colonial Māori life, culture and belief. The sun, moon and stars were an essential part of practices affecting agriculture, fishing, architecture and exploration. Tohunga Māori (specialist men and women) with knowledge of the stars valued the importance of Matariki as an indicator of the seasons, a foreteller of the weather and a navigational beacon for Pacific Ocean travellers. 

Greerton’s IlluminART Festival (2016)

IlluminART 2016. Photo: Debbie McCauley.


Tauranga Moana Matariki Festival invites everyone to discover the significance and history of Matariki and explore ways to observe the Māori New Year with whanau and friends. There are many ways you can celebrate Matariki. One of those is to join our fantastic events and start your own family traditions, which in turn help to celebrate our place and tell our stories.

Matariki Film Awards (2016)

Matariki Film Awards 2016. Photo: Daniel Petersen.


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Tauranga Moana Matariki Festival (2016)