Indigenous | Dr Rangi Matamua

Mātāmua's latest project: a Maōri star app

Professor Rangi Mātāmua's Living by the Stars group has submitted a proposal to the Manatū Taonga Cultural Sector Regeneration Fund to develop a Māori star app so people can identify stars in the night sky.

The expert in Māori astronomy believes that developing a Māori star app would allow all iwi across Aotearoa to study and appreciate the significance of star constellations from a more modern technological, Māori world perspective, and he hopes to receive support from Manatū Taonga, to make this happen.

Mātāmua (Tuhoe) is the pioneering scholar who revolutionised understanding of Māori astronomy, which led to the government recognising Mataraki and making it a public holiday. Living by the Stars is owned by Rangi Mātāmua and his whānau and was created to educate other whānau interested in Māori astronomy.

He says the Māori star app that the group intends to develop will be available in both te reo Māori and English, and will enable access to traditional Māori astronomical knowledge via a modern platform.

“It will educate people on how to identify stars in the night sky, as well as see and hear the numerous Māori names for stars and constellations."

He says the desire to create a Māori educational platform for whānau interested in Māori astronomy arose through years of utilising various English star applications.

“There are several star apps available but we want to improve the concept by making it more Māori, by establishing an app similar to those that can currently view and identify stars in English but creating something that will allow you to see the history and significance of the stars from a Māori perspective.

Helping culture and arts  to thrive

“By pushing on the stars, we want to highlight Māori narratives in both English and Māori, so it will be an app that will enhance our eeo, our stars, and it will have so many applications for everyone who is interested in Māori astronomy.”

Te Aka Tūhono o Manatū Taonga pou mataaho Joe Fowler says the Cultural Sector Regeneration Fund is designed to support the arts, culture and heritage sectors to recover from the impacts of Covid-19, and help the sector thrive in the future.

“We’re looking to find and fund strategic, sector-led initiatives that will have lasting benefits for arts, culture, and heritage in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“We take into consideration the track record of the organisation, whether the level of funding is proportionate to the impact of the proposal and the delivery plan to implement the initiative and we also look to balance our funding decisions across a range of initiatives, sectors and locations in Aotearoa.”

Fowler says 27 projects have already been through this initiative, totalling approximately $11 million in the previous two rounds of evaluations.

He says the investments Manatū Taonga are making are to be balanced across national and significant regional initiatives reaching Māori, Pacific, and disabled communities across performing arts, visual arts, literature, the safeguarding of mātauranga Māori, and the Galleries Libraries Archives Museums Iwi Records (GLAMIR) sector.

Feedback sought

“Successful proposals must be able to demonstrate a strong contribution to the fund outcomes and sector support.

“People can have their say on individual proposals right now by completing a short survey on the Manatū Taonga website. You can submit feedback once per proposal until midnight on Sunday, March 19, 2023.”

Rangi Mātāmua said the software they want to make will not be a "new way" to celebrate Matariki, but rather a tool that can be used to view Matariki if there is a cloudy sky or no opportunity to be outside.

“There is nothing better than being outside, looking at Matariki with your own eyes but what I'm hoping is that the use of this tool will be to help people identify what constellations they are looking at, the names and the history behind it.

“This app will never replace the night sky or Matariki, but rather to help and support whānau who are learning and seeking Māori astronomy.”