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The large cluster of stars known as Matariki has a rich history and cultural significance in Aotearoa. Some consider the full name for the cluster to be ‘Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea’ (the eyes of the god Tāwhirimātea). Tāwhirimātea became so angry when his siblings separated their parents, Ranginui and Papatūānuku, that he tore out his eyes, hurling them into the sky where they landed on the chest of Ranginui.

In Aotearoa the Matariki star cluster rises in midwinter, heralding seasonal change and the start of a new year. Island nations across the Pacific also use Matariki as the name for this star cluster. Cultural traditions across the world know Matariki as Pleiades, the Seven Sisters, or Subaru, and also in many places use the Matariki cluster to mark seasonal change.

Iwi and hapū across Aotearoa understand and celebrate Matariki in different ways and at different times. Matariki is a time to acknowledge those who have passed as their spirits are released into the sky as stars. The different stars in the Matariki cluster are also associated with the various domains from where we source our food. 

Matariki reaffirms the concept of whakapapa – the interconnectedness of all living things, and the relationship with our environment. Matariki is a time to reflect, share kai, give thanks, plan ahead and focus on our collective wellbeing. The introduction of the Matariki public holiday in 2022 means everyone can celebrate Matariki.

Following the success of ‘Toitu Te Tiriti Whaingaroa Waitangi Day 2024’ we are proud to present to the community Matariki ki Whaingaroa. Inspired by the whakatauki ‘Matariki ki tua o ngā whetū – Matariki of endless possibilities’, we have created a programme of film, art and kōrero which celebrates the power of Indigenous knowledge.

Running from June 28th-July 7th at the Raglan Old School Arts Centre, we have a selection of feature and short films – all of which celebrate the power of Indigenous knowledge, and pay homage to a Matariki of endless possibilities. This includes the award winning story of the Whanganui river ‘I am the River and the River is Me’; Te Kūmara, a beautifully crafted documentary about traditional ways of growing and storing kūmara produced by Whaingaroa’s own Te Mauri Tau; and short films by taonga pūoro artist Komako-aroha Silver.  A multi-medium exhibition by local Māori artists and collectives will fill the gallery exhibition space.

The community can also hear from local inspirational speakers who celebrate and live the power of Indigenous knowledge in their daily lives. On the Matariki public holiday Angeline Greensill, a political and environmental rights campaigner who has served our community tirelessly, will be speaking. 

The story of the Toreparu Wetland Restoration Project is also a feature. An intergenerational, hapū driven, collaborative multi-agency project, Toreparu is a wetland just south of Whaingaroa, nestled between Karioi maunga and Aotea Harbour. It is a significant site for Ngati Whakamarurangi and Tainui. Mahuru Robb and Millie Grant-Mackie, Landcare scientists and researchers who work alongside iwi and hapū to restore and connect to their taiao in ways meaningful to them, and Ngati Whakamarurangi hapū representative, Taruke Thomson will share their journey of the Toreparu wetland restoration

As Mahuru says “The Toreparu provides an essential role in the environment, filtering water that comes from a number of streams, ensuring clean and clear water when it reaches the sea. Swamps help reduce and hold sediment, and create a buffer which takes up excessive nutrients from the surrounding farmland runoff. All these things lead to ocean acidification and algal blooms if wetlands aren’t there to do their job. They also help buffer the effects of climate change by slowing water in floods, and holding water in droughts. Wetlands are amazing and I wish more people cared about them!”

Matariki ki Whaingaroa is presented to you by Raglan Naturally and the Whaingaroa Raglan Destination Management Organisation, with funding support from Waikato District Council Creative Communities Scheme, Department of Internal Affairs and Matariki ki Waikato.

Matariki ki tua o ngā whetū

Matariki of endless possibilities.

Be educated, inspired, challenged and activated.

To reserve a film/movie booking go to https://www.raglanartscentre.co.nz/films/