Monday, July 15, 2024

Ōtepoti celebrates with Puaka Matariki Festival

Ōtepoti Dunedin is poised for a spectacular Puaka Matariki Festival packed with community events and activities, including an awe-inspiring drone show, a stargazing excursion by train, and community planting and wildlife watching on Otago Peninsula.

This year’s Puaka Matariki Festival starts today, Tuesday 25 June, offering a citywide programme of community events celebrating the midwinter Matariki season.

The festival’s official launch event, He Hereka Waka, will be held this evening at 5.30pm at Tūhura Otago Museum. Mana whenua and city officials will speak, there will be kapa haka and waiata performances, and those gathered can enjoy shared kai after the evening’s formalities.

Those who attend tonight’s launch will be among the first to experience Waka Whetū, a new interactive exhibition of short planetarium films and innovative installations exploring the meaning and significance of Matariki. Waka Whetū was created in collaboration with Otago Polytechnic’s School of Design, local rūnaka and Kāi Tahu astronomy researcher Victoria Campbell.

The flagship event on the festival calendar is the Matariki Drone Show and Night Market, which takes place from 5.30pm on Saturday 29 June at Logan Park. Brought to the city by the NZ International Science Festival, the drone show is Aotearoa’s largest, with more than 200 high-tech drones performing a mesmerising display choreographed by local Kai Tahu artists.

“This promises to be a fun and festive night out for the whole whānau, with an impressive drone show, fantastic live entertainment and performances, a host of food trucks and face painting for the kids,” says Dan Hendra, Dunedin City Council Team Leader – Events.

“This innovative event continues to highlight Dunedin as a premier destination and a community that values the significance of Matariki, bringing us together to reflect on the past and celebrate the present under our southern skies.”

There will also be toi Māori visual arts, music and dance performance events, including at the Pīata Mai Festival organised by Creative Nātives and held at Te Whare o Rukutia and the Dunedin Community Art Gallery.

Another exciting fixture on the festival programme is an already sold-out stargazing excursion on the Taieri Gorge train. Passengers will take a return trip to Hindon with experienced astronomers for an evening of celestial wonder and a delicious hangi.

The full Puaka Matariki Festival programme can be viewed at Puaka Matariki Festival – Dunedin City Council.

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