Celebrate Matariki with these events in Rotorua

This month, for the first time, New Zealand will celebrate Matariki as a nation.

In the most simplistic terms, Matariki represents the new year for Māori. The truth is, it represents so much more and now that it is formally recognised as a national holiday the whole of Aotearoa can come together at this special time of year to celebrate who we are as a nation. 


Matariki Dish Challenge

What better way to do celebrate the Māori new year than through food in Rotorua!
This year, the inaugural Matariki Dish Challenge and Food Trail is taking place in Rotorua to highlight this unique New Zealand celebration along with our own food stories. The event challenges our local chefs to learn about the significance of this time of year and create a dish that demonstrates what Matariki means to them.
A dozen eateries have jumped at the chance to challenge and upskill their whole team, to celebrate local ingredients as much as possible, and create an outstanding dish worthy of celebrating.
Help put Rotorua dining establishments on world stage! Simply follow the Matariki Food Trail, enjoy the bespoke dishes, and vote on your favourite for the prestigious People’s Choice Award.

WHERE & WHEN: Various eateries in Rotorua, now through Friday, 17 July. Head to the Matariki Dish Challenge website to find out who’s involved and where they’re located.

Umu kohukohu whetū

To honour Matariki being observed as a public holiday, Rotorua is hosting an umu kohukohu whetū on the shores of Lake Rotorua.
Locals and visitors, grab your friends and whānau for the city’s inaugural Matariki civic ceremony at Motutara Point (Sulphur Point) where you’ll have the opportunity to participate in an umu kohukohu whetū ceremony, a traditional way Māori exercised reciprocity with the atua and stars.
An umu is made with different foods that relate to the individual stars of Matariki. When the kai is cooked, it is placed on a tūāhu (platform), and the essence is enveloped into the steam. As the steam rises it feeds the stars of Matariki.
As part of the ceremony, people can speak the names of loved ones who passed the previous year and the names will travel upwards to become stars. It is part of the grieving process, and by saying their name, we are wishing them farewell as they make their journey home.
Please allow 20 minutes to walk to the ceremony location from parking at Government Gardens. A free return shuttle will be available for kaumātua/elderly between the carpark and ceremony location.

WHERE & WHEN: Motutara Point (Sulphur Point) on Friday, 24 June. Check the Ngā Pātaka Kōrero o Te Arawa website for more details.

Under the Stars – A Matariki Exhibition

Ki Raro i ngā Whetū - He Whakaaturanga Matariki: Under the Stars is a month-long exhibition at The Arts Village celebrating Matariki and featuring Rotorua-based artists.
Matariki is a shortened form of Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea (the eyes of the god Tāwhirimātea), as Tāwhirimātea was so enraged by his parents Papatūānuku and Ranginui being separated that he tore out his eyes and threw them to the sky. This formed the constellation Matariki, or the Pleiades. The story varies within iwi, but the commonly accepted version includes nine stars, with the largest star, Matariki, being the mother and guardian of her eight daughters.
WHERE & WHEN: The Arts Village, now until 25 June, with an event to celebrate the holiday on the 23rd. Keep an eye on The Arts Village Facebook page for opening days, times and other details.

Mountain Jade – Matariki Pounamu Exhibition

Artists are always looking for places to draw inspiration. So with Matariki on the horizon, Mountain Jade is excited to share their latest collection inspired by this special time in the Māori lunar calendar.
The 2022 Matariki Collection draws on the concept of kaitiaki. Known as a guardian, Kaitiaki are responsible for protecting something very special, whether this is knowledge, skills, people or places. However, the meaning of kaitiaki also goes much deeper and can be considered the essence or intrinsic nature of someone or something.
Kaitiaki in the context of this collection is the essence of each star in the Matariki cluster, and Mountain Jade carvers Tamaora Walker and Akapita Scally draw inspiration from the elements each star is believed to look after. They also incorporate the form of the manaia into their designs as an embodiment of each star and what it represents. Manaia are mythological creatures, greatly respected in Māori culture and considered spiritual kaitiaki.

The carvings can be reserved (pre-purchased) online or in-store and will be shipped once the exhibition has closed.

WHERE & WHEN: Mountain Jade, 1288 Fenton Street, now to Sunday, 3 July.

Tū Te Ihi: a Matariki celebration and feast at Te Pā Tū

New Zealand’s most-awarded cultural attraction, Tamaki Māori Village, now presenting as Te Pā Tū, has created a new four-hour evening feast and cultural performance aligned to and changing with the maramataka (Māori lunar calendar).
Tū Te Ihi celebrates the Matariki star cluster with mystical ritual, energy, and passion.
Through Tū Te Ihi, feast on Māori song, tradition, and divine seasonal kai (cuisine) within the forest pā (village), towering tawa trees, blazing bonfires, and forest-formed amphitheatre. Hākari (feasting) begins with forest horotai (canapés) and culminates in a lavish three-course meal.
Hāngī remains hero but it shares the table with lesser-known Māori delicacies, prepared fusion style in a seasonal menu designed by award-winning Māori chefs and prepared by our own ringawera (hot hands) served to table – al fresco when warm, or inside the wharekai if chilly.

WHERE & WHEN: Te Pā Tū (formerly Tamaki Maori Village) May through October. For dates and times, see the website for Te Pā Tū website.

ZORB Darkest Night

Winter can be a bit dreary and miserable, so let’s get out there and have some fun! This is your chance to experience the thrill of rolling downhill in ZORBs but in the DARK! Beat the doom and gloom with glowing ZORBs, toasty-warm hot tubs, delicious food onsite by The Kai Lab, and Terrace Catering’s awesome bar mobile serving beverages throughout the evening and adding to the electric atmosphere.
Grab your swimwear and a towel, and help ZORB celebrate the shortest day and longest night of the year – come on down for this once-a-year special event with fantastic deals.
Packages available:
1 ride for $20 per person – 1x Straight Track (normally $40)
2 rides for $45 per person – 1x Straight Track + 1x Sidewinder Track OR 1x Big Air Track (normally $85)
3 rides for $60 per person – 1x Straight Track + 1x Sidewinder + 1 Big Air (normally $99)
Bookings recommended. Prices are per person, per ride. Up to three people can ride in one ZORB. See Rotorua Nui for more info, tickets, and Ts & Cs.

WHERE & WHEN: ZORB on Thursday, 23 June, 5-8pm.

Matariki with Dr Rangi Mātāmua (Te Kōkau Himiona Te Pikikōtuku)

Dr Rangi Matāmua (Tūhoe) is Professor of Mātauranga Māori at Massey University and a pioneering Māori scholar who has revolutionised understandings of Māori astronomy, and in particular Matariki.
As part of the Ngā Ringa Tuhituhi Kupu Māori Writers Festival taking place around Rotorua, Dr Matāmua will talk about his tupuna and the original manuscript which became an important resource for his work. Dr Matāmua’s book “Matariki - The Star of the Year” explores what Matariki was in a traditional sense, so it can be better understood and celebrated in our modern society.
His research has been ground-breaking in terms of its contribution to mātauranga Māori; he has enlightened both national and international populations on the mātauranga of astronomy. He is renowned for his role communicating his research in an accessible and engaging way, and reaching both academic and non-academic audiences.
He has challenged widespread misconceptions about Māori astronomy and has enhanced our understandings of a Māori world view of the stars. His research is situated at the interface between mātauranga Māori and Western science and he is helping to reconnect people with maramataka – the Māori lunar calendar – and the environment. Rangi is also part of a wider movement, reclaiming indigenous astronomy as part of a continued process of decolonisation.
He has won the 2019 Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize and the 2020 Callaghan Medal for science communication from Royal Society Te Apārangi.
WHERE & WHEN: This event has already filled but you can catch it streaming on Twitch, on Friday, 17 June, 5.15-8pm.

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