Story: Biculturalism

Matariki public holiday

On 24 June 2022, this Whāngai i te Hautapu ceremony, led by Sir Pou Temara (Ngāi Tūhoe) and tohunga of Te Mātāpunenga, was held before dawn at Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington. 

It was held to mark the first time Matariki was celebrated with a public holiday. Since the 2000s it had become more common for both Pākehā and Māori to mark the return of the Matariki stars to the night sky in June/July each year. Their arrival is seen as marking the beginning of the Maori New Year. 

During this ceremony food was cooked and the steam from the food was offered to the stars. Tohunga observed the star constellation and made predictions for the year ahead. Also involved in the ceremony were Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Professor Rangi Matamua (Ngāi Tūhoe), who led the committee which provided guidance to the government about the creation of the new public holiday. Professor Matamua said on the day ‘Matariki is something to share as a nation and to forge us together under one identity’. 

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Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

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How to cite this page:

Janine Hayward, 'Biculturalism - Continuing debates', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/video/47769/matariki-public-holiday (accessed 24 June 2024)

Story by Janine Hayward, published 20 Jun 2012, reviewed & revised 10 Jan 2023 with assistance from Janine Hayward