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Matariki Interpretation Roundup

For many of us the traditions of our public holidays are set in stone, inherited from our families and routine after long practice. The first public holiday celebration of Matariki last year was an exciting opportunity to forge new traditions around a wholly new kaupapa. New and exciting, there was a clear demand for more information and for ways in which the general public could engage with the holiday.

Part of our role as interpretation professionals is to respond to the demands for information, but not simply to respond in a bland and monotonous recitation. Rather we must match the tone of the event whose kaupapa it is we are supporting. Let’s talk about our second matariki then! How have various members of our network responded to the public clamour for exciting, engaging, family-oriented reflections on past, present, and future through the symbology, principles, and framework of Matariki.

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Auckland Botanic Gardens: Pā harakeke exhibition

Auckland Botanic Gardens

Have chosen harakeke as the focus for this years matariki celebrations. They are encouraging visitors to explore the living taonga that is the Pā Harakeke. The garden is used by a community of weavers and is a place where horticulture excellence combines with tikanga.


Science gives harakeke one name, Phormium, but Māori have many names for harakeke based on a plant’s use and features. Harakeke varieties have been selected over the centuries by Māori weavers from all over New Zealand. Each variety has been especially chosen for its unique leaf and fibre properties and specific use in weaving. Harakeke is an incredibly important plant for Māori - traditionally it was used to make many important everyday items such as kākahu (garments), kete (kits), taura (rope), whāriki (matting) and rourou (food baskets). Europeans called harakeke flax, even thought is it’s not related to the flax of the northern hemisphere.

The exhibition showcases the following:

  • Our Pā Harakeke collection including our living taonga – to safeguard the collection we have an approval process before harvesting.

  • Different varieties of harakeke used by our weavers

  • Varying items/artistic creations made by our weavers.

  • There is a guided walk of the collection and some of the weavers will come and weave in the centre at varying times during the exhibition for public to enjoy and encourage them to find out more about the community of weavers.

  • Family self-guided trail to explore the outdoor collection

Guided walk of the Pa Harakeke Collection with the garden curator Angela Anstis

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Lucky Dip Matariki Collection © Auckland Museum

Tāmaki Paenga Hira - Auckland War Memorial Museum

There was an array of offerings this year, some taking novel approaches to the celebration of matariki. The full list can be found on their website.

Lucky Dip Matariki Collection

This small exhibition looked at contemporary fashion and design directly inspired by each of the stars in the matariki cluster. Celebrating the influence of the event on artists and creators operating in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Each garment of the Matariki capsule collection by Lucky Dip is named for one of the stars in the Matariki cluster, plus the father, Rehua. Under the creative direction and sole production of Tuhirangi Blair (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe), Lucky Dip interrupts the cycle of increasingly fast fashion, with designs created from recycled materials and an unwavering commitment to craftsmanship.


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Waitaki District Council

The cultural facilities of the Waitaki District Council were aware of the limited access to information about Matariki that was available to the community. The fact that this year Matariki fell in the middle of the school holidays provided an opportunity to expand the usual holiday programmes and events as well as engineer the standard events to fit the kaupapa. Each of the facilities, the Waitaki Museum, Archive, Forrester Gallery, Library, Opera House lent their facilities with special interest groups including Te Runaka o Moeraki, The UNESCO Geopark, Wastefree Waitaki, and others providing guidance and putting on events. Each of the groups and facilities looked at the Kaupapa and identified which thematic elements fitted with their purpose and identity. Thus a unified programme could be put on that highlighted different elements of Matariki.

Henry Buckingham 

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