Matariki is the Māori name for a cluster of stars which is visible in our night sky at a specific time of the year. This winter, Matariki will re-appear in the skies above Aotearoa from the 24th June – 3rd July is a time to celebrate new life, to remember those who’ve passed and to plan for the future. And it’s a time to spend with whānau and friends – to enjoy kai (food), waiata (song), tākaro (games) and haka.
Astronomy was woven into all facets of life for Māori. Experts were able to observe the night sky, charting star and planet movements to understand the relationship the stars and planets had to the moon and the sun, and also what was going on in the moana (ocean), lakes and awa (rivers) on the whenua.
Our latest Newmarket street flags are now visible around the precinct in celebration of Matariki. Choosing to use the Maori description for the area, ‘Te Ti Tūtahi’ instead of Newmarket, Te Ti Tūtahi means ‘Sacred Cabbage Tree Standing Alone’. The original cabbage tree stood at the corner of Mortimer Pass and Broadway. This tree was sacred to Māori and was a well-known landmark for those travelling between the Waitematā and Manukau harbours, and beyond. Sadly, Te Tī Tūtahi was cut down in 1908 as it was considered ‘a danger to children’ attending the local school. The Buckland family, headed by Alfred Buckland, a local businessman, farmer and auctioneer, lived nearby in Highwic House, rescued some of the shoots from the tree. These shoots were used to populate the trees on Lumsden Green many years later and were also included as part of the Teed Street upgrade in 2017.
Newmarket has a number of events celebrating Matariki this year, including the exhibition at Sanderson Gallery: Matariki: Te Whakanui I te hau hou, curated by Jon Tootill. The exhibition will bring together artwork from artists across several generations, and with different cultural backgrounds, expanding on what it means to celebrate Matariki in contemporary Aotearoa, while giving important acknowledgement to tangata whenua.
Osborne Lane, 2 Kent Street