What's On at Zealandia


Matariki ki Te Māra a Tāne / Matariki at Zealandia
ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary

Matariki ki Te Māra a Tāne / Matariki at Zealandia

Matariki has become a popular celebration of Māori culture, for all, across Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Matariki (Pleaides) signals the Māori New Year, seasonal transition, and, various environmental, social, spiritual, economic, and, cultural activities.  An optimal time to harvest and replant some food resources.  Traditionally the winter season freed up time from hunting and gathering allowing space for Whakawhanaungatanga, Hāporitanga, Manaakitanga, Kaitiakitanga, Mātauranga, and, Kotahitanga expressed in the sharing of kōrero, kai, waiata, tākaro, rituals of acknowledgement, appreciation and release. Reflections of the past year, refreshment, refocus for the new year.  In modern times, some of these practices have been revived, adapted, or reinterpreted.    

Matariki is an important celebration to Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne as the sanctuary acknowledges the importance of Te Ao Māori through our commitment to Te Tiriti and our organizational values.

Many of the Matariki stars, while not visible from the sanctuary, represent significant environmental domains, of fresh (Waitī) & sea water (Waitā) – The Kia Mouriora te Kaiwharawhara, the Sanctuary to Sea project! (Te Kāhui o Waitī, a large mural in the VC expresses the Kia Mouriora te Kaiwharawhara/The Sanctuary to Sea project).  The domain of resources cultivated and uncultivated under and above ground (Tupuānuku). The elevated domain of sky, of birds and berries (Tupuārangi), of winds (Ururangi), and, rains (Waipunarangi).   Like stars being used for Oceanic navigation, Matariki was used for practical environmental and spiritual navigation.  Tohunga (experts) in cosmology would note in fine detail and interpret their clarity, positioning in relation to one another to aide in decisions made on Earth.

Despite international tourism restrictions, Matariki provides local and domestic opportunities for all demographics to continue their learning and engagement with Matariki through unique sanctuary events.

Matariki Events at Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne for 2021

Kimihia ngā whetū o Matariki / Zealandia Matariki Star Search

Explore the lush forest at Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne to discover the stars of Matariki hidden in the valley. Find all nine stars, answer a quiz and collect a prize at the end.

We've partnered up with Whittaker's to offer some extra tasty treats - simply pick up a map and join the search for the stars of Matariki! 

Return your map for a free chocolate treat and go in the draw to win some cool prizes! You'll be searching in lush forest full of over 40 species of rare native wildlife. While you look for clues, keep your ears and eyes out for kākā, pīwakawaka/fantail and tīeke/saddleback!

Sanctuary Stargazing 

Zealandia has teamed up with the Wellington Astronomical Society to bring you a drop-in stargazing event as part of the Matariki ki Te Māra a Tāne/Matariki at Zealandia celebrations. 

There will be a few short talks on Maramataka at the start of the night by expert Ockie Simmonds, then you will get a chance to look at the half-moon through the telescopes. We'll have experts on site to help out and answer any questions. 
There will be ‘cosy’ light refreshments provided.


Matariki will officially become a Te Ao Māori and distinct New Zealand public holiday in 2022, a day that acknowledges the importance of tikanga Māori and our nations unique shared identity.

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