Puanga Matariki opens at Hihiaua

By Tumamao Harawira

A unique art exhibition promoting Puanga and Matariki in Northland has opened to the general public with every artwork in it celebrating the Māori New Year.

Puanga Matariki is an exhibition showcasing local artists from Northland, with everything from uku to maramataka Māori. For Justice Hetaraka from Ngāti Wai, it's an opportunity for wider New Zealand to experience what Puanga and Matariki is all about.

"The momentum has started, and in the same way that you feel the mauri of Puanga and Matariki through our artworks. People are going to start feeling the energy of Matariki and Puanga the more that we are aware of it."

"Puanga and Matariki are just a great signal for us to slow down, reflect and bring forward the things into the new year that we want to keep and refresh."

Hihiaua Cultural Centre has opened its doors for this exhibition to celebrate and promote Matariki. Hihiaua curator Alicia Courtney says it's a part of a wider movement in the North to bring awareness to kaupapa Māori.

"A lot of the work speaks to our relationships with nature. They are manifestations, they are conversations about how we as artists and people feel about our environment and Puanga itself."

Puanga before Matariki

Te Wārahi Hetaraka says the difference between events in the North and other regions is that Te Taitokerau celebrates Puanga as the star that heralds the new year.

"Puanga is the star that rises before the arrival of Matariki."

"This is a time for everyone in Aotearoa whether they are Chinese, Pākehā, or French."

Artist Te Kaurinui Parata has created a piece of art in the form of a chart that people can fill in while at home, and that he hopes can be used outside the art world.

"This is a resource. The reason I named it Your Maramataka, is because you can record what you see in the sky, on land, and at sea."