Whitireia celebrates with the stars

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Whitireia Community Polytechnic is celebrating Matariki, the Māori season of renewal, with a two-week series of events starting on Monday. A highlight is the commemoration of Ngāti Toa signing te Tiriti o Waitangi, which happens to fall during Matariki. This has become a Whitireia Matariki annual event.

On Tuesday 19 June, treaty claims co-ordinator Miria Pomare will speak about Ngāti Toa and the treaty, followed by breakfast at Takapūwāhia Marae in Porirua.

Carter Observatory’s Mobile Planetarium will put on 40-minute presentations on the small Matariki star cluster on Thursday 14 June. The appearance of Matariki in the north eastern pre-dawn sky in late May-early June marks the start of a new phase of life or, for some iwi, the beginning of the Māori New Year.

According to the Māori Language Commission, the timing of Matariki’s rising and celebration is unique to Aotearoa. However, the Matariki cluster can be seen from many parts of the world, where it is known by several other names, including Pleiades, the Seven Sisters, Subaru and Messier 45.

Matariki is celebrated in a number of ways at Whitireia. The Visual Arts department will be hosting prominent guest artists from all over New Zealand from Monday 11 June to Friday 15 June.

Artists include clay specialist Colleen Urlich, whose interest is in female Māori cosmology; jewellery artist Areta Wilkinson; weaver Kohai Grace, whose work has featured prominently in major shows such as The Eternal Thread; and Whitireia graduate Sidi Reihana, who specialises in painted kowhaiwhai. He is currently doing some major repair work on Māori artwork at the marae in Te Papa.

Sidi Reihana mastercrafts

Matariki guest artist Sidi Reihana

Carver Darren Ward, who trained under Rangi Hetet, will be running a special workshop in the print studio with Chris White on transferring carving skills to woodcut printing. Members of the public are welcome to visit anytime during the day to see what is happening in the workshops. Work will be on display on Friday.