Celebrating Matariki

20 April 2017 / News

This year’s Chamber Music New Zealand celebration of Matariki promises to be “a sensory feast that re-affirms our place in the universe”. We’re proud to be joining taonga pūoro artist Alistair Fraser, Te Reo Māori singer-songwriter Ariana Tikao, and talented young players from Porirua’s Virtuoso Strings Orchestra for a series of free family concerts in June at Wellington Museum and Pātaka Art + Museum.

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades or The Seven Sisters. In one tradition, Matariki is the mother surrounded by her six daughters, Tupu-a-nuku, Tupu-a-rangi, Waitī, Waitā, Waipuna-a-rangi and Ururangi. The word Matariki literally means ‘tiny eyes’ (mata riki) or ‘eyes of God’ (mata ariki).

For Māori, the rise of Matariki and the sighting of the next new moon heralds the start of a new year. Traditionally, the success of the coming season's crop was judged by the visibility of Matariki. It was thought that the brighter the stars were, the warmer the season and the more productive the crop would be. In the past, Matariki was seen as an important time for family to gather and reflect on the past and the future. Today, the importance of Matariki is in celebrating the unique place in which we live and giving respect to the land we live on.

Taonga pūoro player Alistair Fraser has been making and playing traditional Māori instruments since 2000, when he attended workshops run by Brian Flintoff, Richard Nunns and the late Hirini Melbourne.  Alistair now plays, produces and composes for taonga pūoro in a wide variety of settings. Singer-songwriter Ariana Tikao draws on folk and pop styles for her music, with a strong emphasis on Māori chant.  Ariana was a featured vocalist on John Psathas’ recent international extravaganza No Man’s Land and also featured as a vocalist and taonga pūoro player for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in 2015 for Kenneth Young’s In Paradisum

The Virtuoso Strings Orchestra rehearses each week in Cannons Creek, Porirua, and is an unauditioned orchestra open to any member of the public. It is run by the Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust which provides free instruments and free tuition to students at low decile schools in Porirua.

Find out more about these free concerts


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