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Star studded Matariki celebrations at the Christchurch National Marae - Ngā Hau E Wha

10 June 2008

Organisers of 'Matariki at the Marae' are inviting families to participate in the first public celebration of Matariki by the National Marae - Ngā Hau E Wha on Pages Road, Aranui. 

Two free, family events have been planned for Tuesday and Thursday evening on the 17th and 19th June starting at 5.30 pm and finishing at 8 pm.  Each event will offer a star-studded programme of star gazing, star lore, star craft and soup! This is the first time the National Marae is celebrating Matariki with an open-to-the-public function.

Special guests traditional voyaging and wayfinding expert, Hekenukumai (Hector) Busby will speak on navigating by the stars and Rakiihia Tau, an expert in traditional food gathering methods will speak on planting by the stars.  Soap carving, a waka experience, computer-based whakapapa research and the Star Lab from Science Alive! are also part of the evening programme and will appeal to younger audiences.  Several Polynesian groups will perform including members of the Island Summer Guitar Orchestra.  In addition to these two free family events, the marae will also be lit up from 16 - 20 June in the evenings from 6 - 10.30pm for all to enjoy as they passby.

Matariki commences on the appearance of the star cluster Seven Sisters, also known as Pleiades.  It marks what is generally known as Maori New Year and is a time to reminisce on the past and plan the future as families gather in celebration.  Linda Ngata of Manaaki Sounds Trust based at Ngā Hau E Wha National Marae on Pages Road is keen to point out that the Marae’s Matariki celebrations are for all. “It is for all cultures as much as for Maori,” she says, adding that they are looking forward to more input from other communities in the coming years.  “Sometimes coming to a Marae can be intimidating but this one is for everyone. It is our way of demystifying the concept that Matariki is only for Maori, and confirming that Matariki is for everyone,” she says.

Preschools and schools from the eastern suburbs will also be taking part in a specially designed Matariki programme during the week to stimulate and increase children’s knowledge of Matariki. The sessions were full in February just two weeks after the invitations had been sent to schools in the eastern suburbs. “The interest has been overwhelming and reluctantly, we have had to say no to several schools in Christchurch and in neighbouring districts,” says  Ms Ngata. “Word of mouth had spread the news far and wide with queries coming from Granity on the West Coast”. 

“We were hoping to start slowly with this first open-to-the-public celebration and never anticipated the huge response to it. It is gratifying to know so many schools want to be part of this,” says Ms Ngata and "promises a bigger event next year.”

The National Marae is also open for hire to conventions, seminars, team building and other public functions. 

The Matariki celebrations at the Marae have been made possible through the generous support of Ngā  Hau E Wha National Marae, Manaaki Sounds Trust, Te Runanga Ngā Maata Waka, Te Puni Kokiri, CDHB Hauora Mātauraka, Christchurch City Council, Burwood/Pegasus and Hagley/Ferrymead Community Boards, Ngā  Kete Wananga o Ōtautahi (Christchurch City Libraries),  the University of Canterbury, and Creative Communities Funding.

For more information visit or phone 941 8999.  Other Matariki events happening in Christchurch are on the website including a huge variety of free events at Christchurch City Libraries

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