A renaissance has occurred over the last decade as the cultural Matariki experience has been awakened to the broader New Zealand society. But this event is so much more significant than fireworks displays and fetes. At Excio we have set you a personal assignment and hope you all take it up. Read on to find out more.

Photo by Artana. Design of the Matariki star by New Zealand Maori illustrator Isobel Te Aho-White. Isobel expresses herself and her heritage through a variety of artistic mediums, both digital and traditional. She is a descendant of Ngai Tahu and Ngati Kahungungu ki te Wairoa. More at www.izzyjoyart.com

Aotearoa/ New Zealand is about to experience the first ever official holiday to commemorate our Maori New Year.

“Matariki is more than just a public holiday. Our celebration of the new public holiday will be informed by key values such as unity, sharing, feasting, coming together, and environmental awareness,” Acting Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Peeni Henare said in July 2021.

We, as photographers, have an amazing opportunity to capture this event for historical purposes. Whanau/family, society, researchers and business will look back on Friday, 24 June 2022, as a coming of an age in our society and it is our opportunity to show them what this age looks like.

Dark clouds loom though.  There has been little advertising about events, even though millions of dollars have been allocated to celebrate the day and there is discourse over the appropriate way to celebrate. For example, fireworks obliterating the night sky and causing pollution are not compatible with mātauranga/knowledge.  Once explained it is obvious: Matariki is about the star cluster, and fireworks while entertaining and beautiful destroy our connection to the stars and the idea of remembrance.

By Paul Foxall

Here are three guiding principles to help us understand the true spirit of Matariki:

  • Remembrance – Honouring those we have lost since the last rising of Matariki
  • Celebrating the present – Gathering together to give thanks for what we have
  • Looking to the future – Looking forward to the promise of a new year

Our challenge to everyone, novice through to professional, is to reflect on these guiding principles and photograph the true meaning of Matariki. We look forward to seeing photos submitted to the Image Library for sale. We can be image leaders.  Let’s not let any commercialisation of Matariki (we’re thinking Christmas santa, Easter bunny or Valentine’s Day rose) become a cliché and a poor legacy record for this significant day.

When you pick up your camera, be present and in the moment. You may wish to focus on your holiday, your family and friends, the food you prepare together, your harvest and bounty, your appreciation of nature and the night sky, your joy of the winter cold, your opportunity to reflect, your thoughts about recently passed relations, or your opportunity for a new start and new growth.

By Ann Kilpatrick

Here is the official Matariki site of what’s on around the country to inspire your photography.

Looking back on Matariki 2022, Excio hopes to be seen as a fresh repository of what we stand for as a nation:  So plan your weekend, enjoy your family and upload your three best photos for sale on the Excio Image Library here.

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