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Star lore . . . The wonders of the night sky, from a Maori astrononmy perspective, will be the focus of a Matariki talk by Dr Rangi Matamua. PHOTO: GEORGE EMPSON

by Greta Yeoman

Māori astronomy, the night sky and star lore will be the topics of an upcoming talk in celebration of Matariki.

University of Waikato associate professor Dr Rangi Mātāmua, who is considered Aotearoa’s authority on Māori star lore, will host a presentation at Timaru’s Landing Services building on Thursday.

The talk has been organised by the Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre in association with Arowhenua Marae.

Te Ana operations manager Jenna Scott said Dr Mātāmua’s talk would be the main event organised by the centre to celebrate Matariki, the Māori New Year.

She said his presentation would provide attendees with the foundation “for a truly authentic celebration of Te Tau Hou [the Māori New Year]”.

Ms Scott said while Dr Mātāmua’s lecture was different to past events organised by Te Ana for Matariki, which had included puppet shows and other family-focused activities, it would still be of interest to many age groups.

Dr Mātāmua – who is of Tūhoe descent and grew up on the east coast of the North Island – is the author of Matariki: The Star of the Year, which was based on a 400-page manuscript written by his great-great grandfather Te Kōkau Himiona Te Pikikōtuku.

He was given the manuscript about Māori star lore by his grandfather in 1995, and has spent more than 20 years researching Māori astronomy throughout the country.

Ms Scott said Arowhenua Marae had wanted to bring Dr Mātāmua to South Canterbury for a while, and the fact his visit tied in with Matariki celebrations made it even more special.

While New Zealanders’ interest in Māori New Year was growing, there were still some “misconceptions” about the nature and timing of Matariki, she said.

That was why Dr Mātāmua’s talk would be “so important”.

“It gives us an understanding of the traditional Maori practices surrounding Matariki”.

Associate professor Dr Rangi Mātāmua will speak at the Talbot Room in the Landing Services building, above Speight’s Ale House, on Thursday, June 28, at 7pm.