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Matariki 2022: Tuhūratia ngā Mata o te Ariki, story of the stars, chapter 1: Matariki

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Tūharatia ngā Mata o te Ariki (revealing the faces of Matariki) is a new animated series created by the Te Rito cadets at NZME. This series begins with an overview of Te Kahui o Matariki (the Matariki cluster).
Video / NZ Herald

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

For centuries, Māori have marked the reappearance of the small cluster of Matariki stars in the mid-winter sky, by gathering to enjoy the bounty of harvest from the earth, sea and sky.

It is a time for remembering – particularly those who have passed away in the past year – enjoying being together with good food, and looking forward to all that the coming year will bring.

But there’s also much more to discover about Matariki, with stories to be shared, as well as the rich symbolism in traditional practices.

To honour Matariki, the NZ Herald and Te Rito cadets have joined together to create this seven-part animation series following a young kotiro and her Nan, as the older woman shares mātauranga Māori, teaching her moko about the stars.

Each chapter in Tūhuratia ngā Mata o te Ariki (Discovering Matariki) looks at a different star or aspect of Matariki and tells the stories behind the whetū (stars) and their relationship to one another.

In this first chapter, Nan tells Ururangi about Matariki, the māmā of the cluster, who also gives her name to the whole group of stars.

Te Rito cadet Hinewai Netana-Williams, who led the project, said she wanted to give a wider perspective on Matariki, and to create a resource that could be used beyond the month of celebrations.

“We spend a lot of time talking about the whetū and naming the whetū but we don’t actually know exactly what each whetū symbolises and the beauty behind each whetū as well as the umu kohokoho.”

The umu kohokoho is a practice offering food to the Matariki stars to acknowledge them. In the video Ururangi learns how to make the offering herself.

“The initiative behind the whole video was to make it really simple but really, really clear so that our tamariki could understand and everybody could understand, whether you were Māori, Pacific Islander, European or whatever culture you come from, and that you can find, in your own ways, ways of celebrating Matariki within your own household and in your own whānau/hapū.”

Nan teaches Ururangi about the stars in the Matariki cluster. Animation / Ben Cummins
Nan teaches Ururangi about the stars in the Matariki cluster. Animation / Ben Cummins

Netana-Williams said the video explored the stories of Matariki through a child going through their daily life, and expressing all the ways they feel, allowing the kuia to respond and teach how every feeling is valid.

“We can explain to our tamariki that it’s got a deeper meaning behind it, it’s not just that you’re sad. There’s a connection through your emotions and through the waters that flow within you to your atua Māori, your kāhui whetū, the marama and all that kind of stuff so that’s the whole whakaaro.

“I see myself as that child sometimes and growing up, having similar situations and trying to find a connection with all the ways that you feel. So it was a real heartfelt kaupapa but the two voices behind Ururangi (Oriz Akins) and Kuia (Torerenui a rua Wilson) they both too are Māori and have grown up in similar ways that could resonate with the [characters].”

The cadets wanted to make the video simple and accessible, as well as to make it “like-worthy” – something that people would enjoy watching – so it would be useful for people to embrace Matariki without having to be an expert.

“Even if [you weren’t] brought up in te ao Māori, to give that resource for everyone.”

To learn more about Matariki, check out our interactive online.

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