Stardome puts on a show for Matariki

From Morning Report, 7:58 am on 22 June 2022

The story of Matariki is being shared every evening in Auckland this week, by coloured spotlights shining into the central Auckland sky.

Stardome Observatory and Planetarium is putting on the show as part of its celebrations for the first Matariki public holiday on Friday.

Spotlights installed onto the roof of Stardome planetarium are displaying the Matariki-themed light show this week.

An accompanying soundtrack by Dan Nathan uses taonga pūoro played by Kelly Kahukiwa with vocals from Huia Hamon.

Chief executive Victoria Travers said the planetarium wanted to put something together to mark the special occasion.

"We took some guidance, quite a lot of guidance from Professor Rangi Mātāmua, and worked with incredible creatives to find something that was fitting, that not just was beautiful, but actually spoke to the kaupapa of Matariki."

The light show takes six minutes and tells the tale of the different phases of Matariki, and the stars in the cluster.

Stardome educator Olive Karena-Lockyer said each star had its own distinct identity and meaning, including Matariki itself, which represented the mother, with the other stars her children.

"Tupuānuku and Tupuārangi which are connected to food harvested from the ground and the sky. There's Waipunarangi and Ururangi which are connected to the rain and the wind, so the weather. There's Waitī and Waitā, which are connected to freshwater and saltwater, which are associated with the kai that we gather from the waters, and then the last two are Hiwa-i-te-Rangi and Pōhutukawa."

Hiwa-i-te-Rangi is the youngest star and represents hopes and wishes for the year ahead, while Pōhutukawa represents those who have passed away.

Karena-Lockyer said it was not just Matariki that held importance among Māori.

Puanga, a star to the east of the cluster, marks the new year for many communities in the far north, far south and the west of the motu, while Rehua, which appears to Matariki's right, holds the same significance for others.

Māori astronomer Dr Mātāmua worked alongside Stardome on the light show, and he said it was a great way to tell the story of Matariki.

Rangi Matamua

Photo: Supplied

"You could see the red of Pōhutukawa, and there was that remembrance kind of reflecting on those who have passed, and the movements and then the sound, and then the celebration with all the other lights coming into play. I think it's wonderful how we can express something that's unique to us, where we are in the world, and from, you know, this from Aotearoa in other forms."

Dr Mātāmua said he hoped people would take this opportunity to learn more about Matariki.

The Stardome light show begins at 6.30pm each night this week and runs until Saturday.