National | Matariki

Watch: National Hautapu ceremony ushers in Matariki stars

Crowds at the national hautapu ceremony on Mt Ngongotahā. Photo / RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

Hundreds of people have gathered on Mt Ngongotahā in Rotorua to usher in Matariki, with the second national Hautapu ceremony.

The national ceremony is one of many captivating communities across the motu after a public holiday was established last year.

"While many of us already have Matariki traditions, last year was the first time we celebrated Te Rā Aro ki a Matariki, the Matariki public holiday as a nation." Leauanae Laulu Mac Leauanae, the Tumu Whakarae Chief Executive of Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage said.

"It is heartening to see how people of all backgrounds have embraced Matariki and got involved with their local communities this time around."

Above: The Matariki 2023 Hautapu ceremony on Mt Ngongotahā in Rotorua. Video / Manatū Taonga

The government partnered with Ngāti Whakaue, for the national ceremony on the picturesque slopes of Mt Ngongotahā,

Iwi representatives, the community and those from central and local Government were present to welcome in the rise of the Matariki cluster.

The hautapu ceremony is a pre-dawn remembrance of the departed.

A kai is cooked with the rising steam to honor the newly-risen stars.

The ceremony was simulcast across various media platforms, including Whakaata Māori, Pasifika TV, NZ Herald, RNZ, Three, Prime, and, ensuring its reach across the nation.

"I encourage people to watch the ceremony online, especially if you're looking for a place to begin your Matariki traditions." Leauanae Laulu Mac Leauanae said.

Dr Rangi Mātāmua, Chief Adviser Mātauranga Matariki, emphasized that "Matariki is a period, not a day."

Whether whānau already acknowledged the rising of Puanga, attended a hautapu ceremony, or are still planning their Matariki observance, Dr Mātāmua invited Māori and non-Māori to connect with the true essence of Matariki.

"Matariki is not dictated by how we celebrate it, but by why we do. It is about remembering the past, celebrating the present, and looking to the future. This can happen at the top of a maunga (mountain), at one of the many incredible events hosted by communities throughout the country, in your living room with your whānau (family), or by yourself, under the stars." he said.

"I am thrilled that people from across Aotearoa are showing so much enthusiasm towards nurturing Matariki and ensuring that it is a tradition we build on together and can all be proud of."

"Matariki is an exciting time for us as a nation, as we continue to acknowledge and celebrate our uniquely Aotearoa New Zealand indigeneity as a core part of who we are."

Matariki kāinga hokia or Matariki calls you home was this year's them, Mātāmua added.

"As we all look forward into the new year together, know that wherever you are in the world, Matariki will always call you home," said Dr Rangi Mātāmua.

Public Interest Journalism