02 July 2021

Embracing ahunga nui (connection) through ngā toi (the arts) this Matariki

The Arts Centre will be exploring ahunga nui (connection) through ngā toi (the arts) as the country celebrates Matariki, the start of the Māori new year, and its significance in Aotearoa.

Ahunga nui (connection) resonates as an appropriate focus for this year. The last year has been a tough year, and it’s through connecting that we nurture our wellbeing. Matariki is about gathering whānau and friends together and connecting with each other and our environment – the land, sea and sky. It’s a time of rest and reflection, looking at what has been and celebrating what is to come. Linking this sense of ahunga nui back to ngā toi is a natural connection for The Arts Centre. Universally ngā toi are central in bringing artists and audiences together through creative expression.

The Arts Centre Director, Philip Aldridge is thrilled to present a diverse range of events that truly capture the heart of The Arts Centre’s focus for Matariki this year. “We have so many talented local Māori creatives that shine through every creative practice within our community, and it’s marvellous to bring this programme together for the people of Ōtautahi and its visitors.”

“We’d like to acknowledge the incredible mahi (work) of Puamiria Parata-Goodall and the rest of our newly established Māori Advisory Komiti: Piri Cowie, Areta Wilkinson, Hōhepa Hutana-Waitoa; our funders Christchurch City Council’s Events and Festivals Fund and Te Puni Kōkiri; and all the creatives, artists and musicians who are partnering with us to bring our celebrations to life.”

The Arts Centre will present 13 events as part of its Matariki programme held between 5 - 18 Hōngonoi July. The Great Hall will come alive with OneOne, an award-winning AV/digital dance installation by internationally recognised NZ arts laureate, Daniel Belton and Good Company Arts - a spellbinding Asia-Pacific fusion to enhance the magic of Matariki.

Daniel says “It is an honour to be bringing OneOne - Raranga to The Arts Centre. We are grateful to funders, friends and whānau of Good Company Arts, who are making this sharing possible. OneOne celebrates the universal languages of dance and music, which can inspire us with messages of hope during this time of great uncertainty and change for the planet".

The annual Kapa Haka Showcase by local kapa haka groups (this year featuring Ngā Manu A Tāne and Te Ahikaaroa) is always a crowd puller and this year any donations made at the event will go directly to these two groups to assist them in fundraising towards presenting at Te Matatini.

The Matariki Night Mākete will take place over two evenings in Market Square with yummy kiwi kai, beautiful Māori arts, artisan arts and crafts, and local entertainers. This happens on the final weekend of Tīrama Mai, where The Arts Centre is lit up along Worcester Boulevard. 

An artist talk by Nigel Borell will explore some of the challenges and successes in presenting the exhibition project Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art, the largest exhibition in the 133-year history of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (AAG) featuring over 300 artworks by 110 Māori artists.

Celebrations also feature Lumière Cinemas playing Cousins (PG|Offensive language), and a very special screening of the film where afterwards Juanita Hepi will kōrero with Cousins actress Tanea Heke. 

There is also a range of activities available to express your creativity. A hei taringa earring making wānanga (workshop) and whetū harakeke (flax star making drop-in session for tamariki) with Lisa Harding and Corabelle Summerton from Kahu Collective. 

Thanks to the successful fundraising campaign through Boost Ōtautahi, The Arts Centre will launch Te Whare Tapere ā Toi, a place for ngā toi Māori artists to share, develop and present collaborative work to audiences and communities.

Centre stage in the North Quad will be Riki Manuel’s Te Waka Whaka Hou - The Canoe of the Rebuild, created in 2012 from earthquake rubble. The waka symbolises ‘us’ the people of Ōtautahi, moving forward from the damage caused by Rūamoko in the Christchurch earthquakes. Also, the brightly painted community piano by Wongi Wilson, featuring the stars of Matariki will be available to play in the North Quad.

There will also be a couple of performances to round off the programme featuring established Ōtautahi performers. Th’Orchard is having an intimate night of music, art and conversation in a show called Th’Orchard Dreams. You’ll get to hear about their vision and dreams for a new show being developed, and be a part of their creative, cosmic journey. Finally, celebrations will conclude with Calling on the Stars/Karangahia ngā whetū, a concert by Lisa Tui and Toroa, where you’ll hear saxophones, guitars and voices come together seamlessly and warm your heart – something we all need in the middle of Winter.

Also, bring your tamariki along to the Boys' High building where there is a fun Matariki pukapuka mahi (activity book) for them to learn more about Matariki and this special time of year.


Ngā toi are for everyone, and The Arts Centre hopes people enjoy celebrating Matariki.