What is Matariki?

Tīrama Mai, meaning to illuminate or bring light, celebrates Matariki, our people and our unique local landscape. Over the past couple of weeks, the terrace and other parts of Ōtautahi have been decorated to celebrate the Māori new year, Matariki. 

Christchurch’s central city and New Brighton will be transformed with a series of innovative lighting installations, projections and illuminated artworks created by some of Canterbury's best lighting artists and creative minds.

Explore the lighting trails from Friday 25 June until Saturday 10 July, between 6 pm - 11 pm every night. Tīrama Mai will conclude with a Matariki fireworks display on Saturday 10 July in New Brighton.

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in midwinter and for many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year. Iwi across New Zealand understand and celebrate Matariki in different ways and at different times.

The cycle of life and death
Traditionally, Matariki was a time to acknowledge the dead and to release their spirits to become stars. It was also a time to reflect, to be thankful to the gods for the harvest, to feast and to share the bounty of the harvest with family and friends.

Matariki revived
Matariki, or Māori New Year, celebrations were once popular, but had largely stopped by the 1940s. In the 2000s, they were revived. Now, thousands of people take part in events to honour the beginning of the Māori New Year, and in whanāu celebrations to remember those who have died and to plan for the year ahead. From 2022, a public holiday marking Matariki will be held in June or July each year.

This is a timely reminder that on the 24th of June next year, employees will be given a public holiday to celebrate Matariki. 

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