Arts to help festival shine

The Pleiades star cluster (Matariki). Photo: Nasa
The Pleiades star cluster (Matariki). Photo: Nasa
The work of local creatives will have a special place in Dunedin’s celebrations of the inaugural Matariki public holiday.

Dunedin City Council cultural community adviser Vicki Lenihan, who has helped to co-ordinate the city’s annual Puaka Matariki Festival, running from June 21 to July 3, said she was thrilled to see Maori artists taking a prominent role.

Among them are the Maori and Pasifika artists, such as Louise Potiki Bryant, Michael Bridgman and Rachael Rakaena, involved in curating and creating the "Mana Moana: Otepoti" event, to be showcased over three nights, from tomorrow to Sunday, at the harbour basin.

"The stories that will be told during the "Mana Moana: Otepoti" show will focus on Otakou Harbour and will highlight how everything we do as human beings impacts the environment, and how we can work towards a sustainable future," Ms Lenihan said.

"It is going to be a wonderful show for all the community."

The Matariki public holiday tomorrow will begin with dawn ceremony Matariki Ahuka Nui at 7am in the Museum Reserve, and will focus on remembering loved ones who have died recently.

"There has been a beautiful installation created, which will showcase the photos of many of those loved ones — it will be very special," Ms Lenihan said.

These events and the many others in the festival celebrated the return of the lone star Puaka and the star cluster Matariki to the pre-dawn midwinter skies — a time to come together and share stories, pass on knowledge, build communities, and plan for the year ahead.

It was also a time to rest, recharge, and stay warm during the winter months.

"We are fortunate to have a special view of the universe from here in the South, and can look to these stars which have always helped us to navigate."

In the age of Covid-19, and in keeping with the way Matariki signified our connection with the environment and our food supplies, many of the festival’s events were relatively low-key and involved the sharing of kai.

The city’s public institutions, such as galleries, libraries and museums, would play their part by hosting lectures, workshops, and Toi Maori visual arts, music and dance events.

Another special event in the festival will be the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra’s Celebrating Matariki — Whakanuia Matariki concert on July 2.

Conducted by Marc Taddei, the concert will feature New Zealand compositions including the world’s first taonga puoro concerto Ko te tatai whetu, featuring Ariana Tikao; the world premiere of New Mountain by Dunedinite Maddy Parkins-Craig; and Holst’s monumental The Planets.

  • For the full festival programme, visit
  • For more information and event listings, see our Matariki feature on page 12



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