Rare visit highlight of Matariki at Christchurch’s Arts Centre

Maisey Rika

Matariki Group Pic 1200x800

Delaney Davidson

Matariki 2021 Star Making 898

Kahu Collective whetū harakeke (star-making) workshops

Rare visit highlight of Matariki at Christchurch’s Arts Centre

As Aotearoa gears up for its second Matariki holiday, plans are well under way at Christchurch’s Te Matatiki Toi Ora The Arts Centre for nearly three weeks of celebration from 3 – 20 July.

Top billing goes to Maisey Rika, the award-winning singer-songwriter and Arts Foundation Laureate from Te Moana-a-Toi Bay of Plenty. Maisey rarely tours south of Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington and The Arts Centre is bringing her to Ōtautahi for one performance in the majestic setting of the Great Hall.

For those unfamiliar with Maisey, her voice is sometimes compared to Tracey Chapman or Sade, although accompanied by taonga pūoru as well as western instruments.

From Christchurch musicians, there’s a new show called Ka Noho, Ka Mate, created with the kaupapa of Matariki in mind. The performers are Lyttelton music legend Delaney Davidson; university lecturer, reo teacher and hip hopper Kommi Tamiti-Elliffe; theatre and orchestra veteran Heather Webb; singer-songwriter and producer Mark Perkins; and Taipua Adams, stalwart of the Wellington underground scene.

Arts on Tour NZ presents the bilingual duo Aro showing He Rākau, He Pepeke (Tales of our Trees), inspired by the natural heritage of Aotearoa. Aro are Charles and Emily Looker. Their music includes elements of folk, soul, haka and a touch of jazz.

Back on stage again this year will be th’Orchard. Get ready as they share their stories through song and spoken word, led by Mark Vanilau (musician, songwriter) and Solomon Smith (spoken word, vocalist, musician).

Visual Arts

An exhibition of selected works by well-established and earlier-career Māori artists in Pūmanawa gallery was sparked by contemplation of the traditional relationship between an older person (tuakana) and a younger person (teina). It is curated by Ngahina-Belton Bodsworth, who has put together a layered exploration of intergenerational influence, support and challenge.

Artist Maxine Burney is offering a series of Navigating Your Arty Self workshops in her studio for anyone wishing to begin or extend their exploration of sketching, drawing and colour.


On Sunday 9 July, more Māori artists and craftspeople will join regular stallholders to show and sell their art and crafts at The Arts Centre’s Matariki Mākete. Meet the makers and explore what Ōtautahi craftspeople have to offer.

For tamariki, Matariki favourites Lisa Harding and Corabelle Summerton from Kahu Collective are back with drop-in whetū harakeke (star-making) workshops in the Great Hall. These hands-on sessions are ideal for ages 8-12. For adults, Kahu Collective will do a Putiputi harakeke (flower) making workshop.

Other Matariki holiday workshops will guide tamariki in making kites (manu tukutuku), Melanesian stick-charts for navigation, and purerehua (bullroarer) instruments. Numbers are limited and bookings required.

Unique to The Arts Centre this Matariki is heritage stargazing from the rebuilt Observatory Tower. By joining a 30-minute small group tour, you and your whānau can climb up the tower at night like generations of students past. On a clear night, you can view the Southern Sky through the Victorian-era Townsend Teece Telescope, under the guidance of Townsend Observers from the University of Canterbury, reviving a pre-quake tradition. 

The Townsend Teece Telescope dates from 1864. It was donated by English settler James Townsend to Canterbury College (now the university) in 1891. The College received a £420 donation from The Astronomical Society of Christchurch and used that money plus funds originally earmarked for a medical school to build the Observatory Tower, completed in 1896. After the University of Canterbury had moved to Ilam and the site became The Arts Centre, the university continued to operate the observatory with regular Friday night public viewings.

Then came the February 2011 earthquake. The tower collapsed and the telescope was damaged. Both have been meticulously restored. The adjacent buildings have been converted into the boutique Observatory Hotel, and the tower is only open to the public for people booked on heritage stargazing tours or other registration-only special events.

Learn more

If you want to learn more about the Matariki star cluster, who better to explain than University of Canterbury Senior Lecturer Dr Clare Worley? Dr Worley’s field of expertise is formally termed “galactic archaeology” – unravelling the evolutionary history of Te Ikaroa The Milky Way. She will give a free lecture in the Great Hall on how astronomers are studying Matariki to further this work, such as via the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission, which is mapping more than a thousand million stars in three dimensions.

Much closer to home, people can join taonga maker and Oxford Gallery toi o Waimakariri Artist in Residence Neke Moa and tohunga Paula Conroy in conversation. They will discuss Neke Moa's recent work and how collaboration informs and shapes their mahi toi.

Finally, Lumière Cinemas at The Arts Centre is presenting Waru, a story of a boy killed by his caregiver. A sisterhood of Māori female directors bravely share their insights into the complexity of child abuse in a sequence of eight short films that seamlessly become one.

In the words of Lumière Director Nick Paris: “We see a single death through the differing lenses of the extended family, community, and in one sharp sequence, national media … The subject could hardly be heavier, but this is a hugely important film. It’s a film everyone should see and talk about.”

Matariki Festival at Te Matatiki Toi Ora The Arts Centre, Christchurch 3 – 20 July.


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