Te Whānau Marama: The Heavenly Bodies exhibition

A new exhibition at Waikato Museum will showcase Māori astronomy and promote a better understanding of the history and meaning of Matariki. 

Te Whānau Marama: The Heavenly Bodies has been developed alongside the University of Waikato and will open on 28 May. The exhibition will look at the Māori societal view of the night sky and how it is being revitalised in the modern world. 

Waikato Museum Director Cherie says the partnership between the museum and the university has combined knowledge and skill to produce an authentic, educational experience for museum visitors.

“Working with external curators brings specialist knowledge and new thinking, extending our ability to present a detailed, learned view on the specialised subject of Maaori astronomy. We have responded to that by developing an exhibition that will be an out of this world experience and a platform for discussion and learning.” 

Associate Professor Rangi Matamua, Dr Hemi Whaanga, Dr Ann Hardy (Aotearoa) and PhD candidate, Hohepa Tuahine (Tūhoe, Te Arawa) from Te Whare Waananga o Waikato are the curators of Te Whānau Marama: The Heavenly Bodies.

“Te Whānau Marama is the result of the coming together of The University of Waikato, Waikato Museum, The Royal Society of New Zealand, the community and our research.

It’s very exciting for us to have our research and our area of passion portrayed in a gallery space,” Mataamua says. 

Te Whānau Marama is the family of light – the celestial bodies of te rā (sun), te marama (moon), ngā whetū (stars), hinātore (phosphorous light), parikoikoi (gloomy light) and hinerauāmoa (small star).

Placed in the sky by the god Tāne, they’ve guided Māori across the Pacific Ocean and played a pivotal role in Māori agricultural, fishing, hunting, building – foretelling aspects of the coming seasons and weather conditions – and in ceremony, language and culture.

To acknowledge the rising of Matariki on 28 June 2016, a series of events will be held in the Te Whānau Marama gallery at Waikato Museum. 

The exhibition runs until 13 July 2018.