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Te Papa digs deep into Matariki traditions

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Te Papa Tongarewa is calling for Matariki to be celebrated by all New Zealanders as an indigenous event of national identity.

Charles Royal, the creative director of the national museum's Matariki programme, says over the past two decades the midwinter celebration has grown and become a general celebration of Maori culture.

He'd like to focus back on its origins as a festival of renewal around the end of the lunar calendar and the start of the new year.

The rise of the star cluster known as Matariki is critical to that.

"Our people would stay up late at night gazing at the stars and when they finally saw Matariki they would light fires and cook food and it is said the aroma of the cooked food would be the vehicle by which the spirits of loved ones where dispatched into the night where they became te hunga ko whetu rangatira, those who passed had become stars in the night, so it was an act of farewelling loved ones of the year just gone," Dr Royal says.

Te Papa's Matariki celebration starts with a community ritual tomorrow evening in the outside ampitheatre on the Wellington waterfront.



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