Officer of the stars! Professor Rangi Mātāmua honoured

Professor Rangi Mātāmua was named New Zealander of the Year in 2023.

One of Māoridom’s most respected leaders has been honoured today for services to Māori astronomy.

Professor Rangi Mātāmua was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit today at Government House, and dedicated this honour to those who have impacted his teaching.

Mātāmua said when he received the news about the honour, he reflected on his grandparents, who helped impact his life and developed his way of thinking to be where he is today.

“We are the living generation that are continuing to pursue what they’ve left behind for us, initiatives that will live on through all of us.”

Rangi Mātāmua ONZM recipient after receiving his medal. (captured)

Mātāmua now follows in a line of awardees honoured for services to their people and the evolution of their knowledge of the stars, knowledge he hopes will evolve as the government week approaches.

“My hope is that the government continues to support our initiative, furthermore the rest of the country as well. There have been many benefits because of this Matariki initiative.”

Mātāmua, who led the campaign to create Matariki as a public holiday, said now everyone was open to celebrating it. The next phase was to help one another reconnect with findings from the environment, specially with climate change on the rise, he said.

“Go outside and read the signs of the environment. That’s one of the things we have lost and continue to lose. To know how to read the signs of the environment and determine “Tread carefully, a storm is coming, or a good year is coming.”

Although this newly created officer has plenty of work ahead of him, he said he was looking forward to the release of his new book, coming soon.

“It’s called Te Whānau Mārama. I talk about all Māori stars and their constellations. That will be released next year. That is the main project that’s ahead at this time.”

This year’s Matariki celebrations will be held in Te Waipounamu, led by Ngāi Tahu.

Mātāmua said he was looking forward to this year’s celebration and hoped afterwards to find some time to rest.