Matariki – the Maori New Year Celebrations on Maori TV

25 06 2008

Maori Television invites viewers to celebrate Matariki – the Maori New Year – with a glorious festival of arts and culture on HE KARANGA MATARIKI, a series of three one-hour specials to screen on Tuesday June 10 at 8.30 PM, Wednesday June 11 at 8.30 PM and Thursday June 12 at 9.00 PM.

Maori Television has turned to some of the country’s finest creative minds to interpret and shed light on the meanings and themes of Matariki.

“We decided to cast our net wide and offer our performing artists a unique opportunity,” says HE KARANGA MATARIKI producer Michele Bristow. “Maori have long realised that performance holds the key to many truths. Chant, song, dance and drama record our history, convey feelings, express ideas, celebrate important events, as well as protest and persuade. In this special Maori Television invites others to the stage to express and share Matariki.”

For traditional Maori, Matariki was a constellation whose appearance in the pre-dawn sky in early June marked the start of a new phase of life. Occurring at the end of harvest, it was a time to think ahead, plan sea voyages and prepare the land for planting, but also to celebrate. People would gather and reflect, observe ceremonial rituals, sing, dance and tell stories.

Today, that attention to art, culture, reflection and celebration provides the inspiration for HE KARANGA MATARIKI.

The three parts of this series have been designed to explore the past, present and future through music, kapa haka and korero. Part One remembers and gives thanks while looking back at the year past. In Part Two the focus is the present, with music by Anna Coddington, and a modern tale of Matariki as told by Te Hamua Nikora. The third and final part is a celebration of new beginnings, expressed through kapa haka by Auckland Girls Grammar School, and the music of Little Bushman and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

Another key element of the series is storytelling, woven through the musical performances. For oral societies, stories are the means through which knowledge is transferred. For Maori these were often long and complex, and full of instruction on how to behave, overcome obstacles, make clothes and build houses, and other topics vital to the health and future of a tribe. HE KARANGA MATARIKI features some of these stories, performed by such people as Merimeri Penfold, Mere Black, Makere Kaa, Maruhaeremuri Stirling and Makere Wano.

Bristow hopes the special programmes will create a wider awareness of this unique celebration: “While other cultural celebrations most definitely have a place in our country’s calendar, Matariki is one Maori celebrate, and one we wish to share with the nation.”

Tune in to the culture, language, spirit and people. HE KARANGA MATARIKI screens on Maori Television on Tuesday June 10 at 8.30 PM, Wednesday June 11 at 8.30 PM and Thursday June 12 at 9.00 PM.

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