Te Papa will open its interactive Matariki exhibition tomorrow ahead of the Māori New Year being celebrated as a public holiday for the first time later this month.
The exhibition made up of three interactive parts including past, present and future was blessed this morning by mana whenua.
Te Papa kaitiaki and design team lead Crystal Jones said the first part focuses on the star "Pōhutukawa" and looks at remembering those who have died in the last year.
"You come up and you push one of the buttons and you think about the person or people or say their names out loud. In historic times, you would call their name out to the stars and Pōhutukawa would take your loved ones away."
There are nine lights in the first portal to represent each star that makes up the star cluster Matariki.
The second portal looks at the present and how visitors may plan to spend and celebrate the te ao Māori public holiday.
It includes many strands of different coloured wool to represent the rays of the stars shining in the sky.
Exhibition experience developer Murphy Peoples explained the idea was for visitors to grab a piece of wool and connect it around different pictures to show how they would like their Matariki to go.
She said there was no right or wrong way to celebrate the Māori New Year.
"It's about coming together, it's about celebrating its indulgence, it's doing things that you love to do. So we've got some pictures up here to inspire people and as time passes, as this experience is open, this weaving will grow."
The final portal named Manakotia Hope includes the star Hiwa-i-Terangi, the star of hope.
Peoples said this part represents the end of the day and looking towards the future.
"We're inviting our visitors here to share their aspirations or create a Matariki pledge for whānau, hapori, community or taio nature... share them on our aspiration wall which will grow as the time goes. And you can read other people's aspirations and see what everyone's doing for the good of the nation, for the good of their family and for the good of the environment."
There are also kiosks where visitors can learn more about the nine stars and their responsibility.
Kaihautū, Māori co-leader Arapata Hakiwai hoped non-Māori would be able to go through the exhibition and get a sense of belonging.
"I think it's a great opportunity for those who come to Aotearoa New Zealand to get a greater sense of the richness in-depth and significance of our knowledge. One would hope in a way reflect perhaps where they're from and reflect on the relationship with the land with their whenua with their people, and the knowledge that surrounds them and is part of them."
Hakiwai said it was a significant time for Matariki to be recognised as a public holiday for the first time.
"It just signals that whānau and family are really really important. They always have been. I think it's a time then and more so now than any other time with the Kowheori [Covid-19]and the Covid that's circling around us. Let's come together, let's be strong, let's celebrate and let's look after one another."
The National Museum will be running a series of events from 24 June to 3 July.