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AUT celebrates Matariki through art

by Vanessa Elley (she/her)

news writer

AUT is highlighting students' interpretations of Matariki through visual art this year.

The university’s Office of Māori Advancement is hosting an art competition open to all current students, under the theme: ‘What does Matariki mean to you?’

Selected artworks will also be put on display as part of an exhibition during the week of Matariki.

AUT Māori liaison student advisor Jana Nee says art is a great way to convey people’s unique and personal understandings of Matariki.

“Even within Māoridom, different hapū and iwi have different understandings or different origin stories of Matariki, so we chose art because it’s like a beautiful way to convey their understandings of what Matariki is, not just as a holiday but the constellation itself, the tikanga that goes with Matariki.”

Nee says Matariki is for everyone, and that the organisers wanted to see people’s own experiences through the art they submit.

“The interpretation of what Matariki means to each person is going to be unique and we really just wanted to celebrate that diversity and like how rich the stories are that people have, and their experiences of that time.”

The art competition is just one of the university’s planned events, with a roster of others scheduled across the three different campuses.

These include a kawe aroha (remembrance service) at Ngā Wai o Horotiu Marae on July 13, followed by gardening and planting, mirimiri massage, raranga flax weaving, poi and te rākau, making a wish upon Hiwa-i-te-rangi, the wishing star, and more.

Matariki Observance Day was marked as an official public holiday for the first time last year when the Te Kāhui o Matariki Public Holiday Act 2022 came into effect.

Nee says this is only the second year that AUT has done something larger-scale to celebrate Matariki, but the plans are growing every year.

“I feel like it gets bigger and expands every year so this is like a little bit more than we offered last year, and I can only see it getting bigger.”


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