TODAY |

Smaller Matariki events to forge ahead despite Covid-19 disruptions

It's time to wave goodbye to the past tumultuous months with Covid-19 and celebrate the year ahead with Matariki.

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The star cluster is back in our skies, marking the Māori New Year.

The star cluster disappears for a month year each and is now back in our skies, marking the Māori New Year.

"Matariki is the Māori name for the star cluster Pleiades," says Auckland Council's Matariki Festival Director, Ataahua Papa.

"It's an indicator for Māori of when we should start planning for the year ahead. It's also a time to celebrate those who have passed on."

Landmarks across Auckland are being illuminated each night - just one event to mark the occasion.

Aucklanders will see the orange colour of the Matariki sunrise flood the SkyTower, Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Lightpath.

Meanwhile, the Harbour Bridge tells the story behind the nine stars in the cluster, which are used to predict the productivity of the year ahead.

However, events this year have been scaled back significantly due to Covid-19.

"The whole Covid situation unfortunately has had huge implications for budgets," says Ms Papa.

"We found we can deliver a lot more of smaller events in community spaces rather than having big huge events and bringing people to those."

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The reappearance of the celestial phenomenon signals the beginning of the Maori new year. Source: 1 NEWS

Fireworks over Wellington Harbour's been postponed after the Council said the virus hampered planning and preparation.

But it's not stopped Auckland's Stardome Observatory & Planetarium from sharing stories written in our night skies.

"It's a really powerful tool to be able to understand how to find Matariki and how the sky works," says Olive Karena-Lockyer, one of this year's presenters at their Matariki show.

"This year is a more personal introduction to Māori astronomy. There is so many constellations of stars that people are familiar with but for us to introduce the Māori name for those is really important," Josh Kirkley, another presenter explains.

The 26-year-old's passion for astronomy gained international recognition after space agency NASA shared one of his own hand-drawn creations on Instagram.

"To check in and see NASA has acknowledged something out of tens of thousands of other people is pretty exciting," Mr Kirkley says.

Now he's inspiring other budding astronomers this Matariki, keen to catch a glimpse of the cluster. 

Ms Papa says the best time to read the stars is when it’s in the correct lunar phase, around July 13 to 16.