Embracing Matariki
July 31, 2023 | Stories

By Niki Partsch | Nationwide

Our offices and heritage places across Aotearoa New Zealand embraced Matariki last month in both new and traditional ways. 

While some people have Matariki traditions extending back over generations, for many, the learning is new, and this includes how workplaces manage the lead-up to this public holiday.  

Last year, the live national broadcast from Te Papa Tongarewa was watched with great attention and interest. The extraordinary line-up was rich with speakers who shared their knowledge and insights into Matariki.   

From the encouragement given then, and the myriad of ideas and suggestions presented since, people have come up with creative (and sometimes tasty) ways to celebrate. A quick search online will reveal an abundance of ideas and suggestions about how communities and co-workers can mark this significant time together. 

Common among our workplace staff were get togethers involving various activities including museum visits, traditional craft activities and shared kai. Servicing all of Aotearoa New Zealand, our people are spread widely across both the North and South Islands, with each office making their own arrangements and plans.

After Karakia at Fyffe House. Photo: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
Matariki community breakfast. Photo: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
Artists and musicians Riki Soloman, James Webster and Marcus Winter sound check, the afternoon before the event. Photo: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.
Steambox hangi ready to enjoy. Photo: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
Volunteers Evelyn Norman and Fredda Martin admiring some of the colourful creative works at Alberton, completed by students from Mapura Studios. Photo: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
Matariki craft workshop where participants created Matariki themed wall hangings. Photo: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

In Wellington, staff came together for a shared lunch, the highlight being a steam box hangi accompanied by waiata learnt especially for the event. 

To further their understanding of Aotearoa New Zealand’s long history, the team from our Christchurch office visited the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū to see Te Rā, the only known customary Māori sail in existence. 

Extending the embrace of Matariki beyond our offices, many of the iconic heritage places we care for around the country also welcomed visitors to join them at special events. 

Reflecting the history of the Kerikeri Mission Station, visitors to a Matariki event held at the Stone Store were greeted by staff in traditional Missionary attire.  

The grand setting of Alberton’s stately ballroom hosted an exhibition Catch a Falling Star, by Mapura Studios, which was very well attended by visitors to this iconic heritage place in the heart of Auckland’s central suburbs. 

The day after Matariki, the team at Thames School of Mines held a craft workshop where visitors created wall hangings with a Matariki theme. Gems stones purchased from the on-site store were incorporated into the pieces of work. 

Rounding out the season of events, both new and traditional, we head to the top-of-the-south. On a cool and still winter morning, the Kaikōura community gathered on the lawns at the 181-year-old Fyffe House. With warming drinks in hand and bonfires providing ambience and much-needed heat, those gathered listened keenly to invited guests. Lead Māori astronomer Rikki Solomon captivated the audience with his knowledge, followed by musician James Webster and artist Marcus Winters as the sun rose to light up the snow-capped mountains. 

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
Kerikeri Mission Station
Fyffe House
Thames School of Mines

Niki Partsch | Kaitohutohu Whanake - Māori Heritage Advisor
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