The first Matariki national public holiday has seen an explosion of events up and down the country, both on the day itself (June 24) and continuing long after. Head to art exhibitions, book in for Māori-led feasts and take part in cultural experiences that all celebrate this special time in a way that’s unique to New Zealand.

NORTH ISLAND

Northland Matariki Pēwhairangi Bay of Islands
Running until July 31, the Bay of Islands Matariki festival includes workshops, live music, Matariki-inspired feasts and cultural experiences over a period of several weeks. Take a bone carving workshop or attend a free concert – both at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds on June 25. Book in for a modern indigenous banquet on July 16 at landmark pub The Duke of Marlborough – courtesy of Māori chefs including Rewi Spraggon (aka the Hāngī Master) and Rex Morgan of Boulcott Street Bistro.

Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
The gallery is hosting a free event running all day on Friday June 24. It will include food such as traditional Māori hāngī, a market where you can buy arts and crafts made by local Māori creatives, and live music. There will also be craft workshops for children, where they can make their own poi – a light ball on a string that is traditionally swung or twirled to accompany singing.

Matariki ki te Manawa
In Auckland’s CBD, there are several special events and activations happening until July 16. Tūruma is a series of eye-catching light installations illuminating different parts of Queen Street. Britomart is hosting free crocheting workshops between July 13 and 16 with artists Lissy and Rudi Robinson-Cole. The duo is crocheting a full-size Māori whare (meeting house) for their project Wharenui Harikoa, or House of Joy. There’ll also be an exhibition of large-scale photos documenting the process around Britomart’s Pavilions.

Whānau Mārama and Heavenly Bodies exhibitions
Until July 10, retail and food precinct Commercial Bay is hosting Whānau Mārama, a group exhibition by Māori artists and researchers. Curated by artist Jade Townsend, who owns recently opened gallery Season, Whānau Mārama can be viewed in the wider spaces and some individual stores in the mall. There are paintings by Heidi Brickell inside Wynn Hamlyn, a multimedia sculpture by Te Ara Minhinnick in leather goods store Yu Mei, and much more. In the Season gallery space, you’ll find the striking Heavenly Bodies. The solo exhibition comprises new quilt works by Maungarongo Te Kawa representing the nine whetū (stars) of Matariki.

Te Karanga a Hape From 5pm this afternoon, June 23, Auckland’s colourful Karangahape Road will come even more alive with a collaborative Matariki celebration on the strip, just ahead of the public holiday itself. There are live gigs and DJ sets across 15 venues, late-night art and fashion installations, food specials – including a boil-up at Pici – and community activities such as bike tours.

Waikato
Matariki ki Waikato
Across Hamilton, Te Awamutu, Waitomo and Cambridge, dozens of businesses and destinations have come together to create Matariki events. You could take part in a traditional Māori medicine, or rongoā, workshop, go for a guided stargazing walk, or even join a bilingual (English and te reo) glow-worm cave tour. Until July 3, Waitomo Homestead has hāngī and boil-up pies on its menu, as well as a special pāua (abalone) dish.

Rotorua
Te Pā Tū Winter Matariki Celebration
Available for bookings between May and October, this four-hour cultural experience takes place in a forest of tawa trees, and features performances and rituals such as kapa haka and a fire ceremony, plus a multi-course Māori dinner where you can feast on traditional dishes such as roasted eel (the Māori word for which is “tuna”), ember-warmed kūmara (sweet potato), and hāngī.

Pōneke Wellington
Matariki ki Poneke Festival
The capital is putting on all manner of events and attractions in honour of Māori New Year. From today, June 23, to Sunday June 26, wrap up warmly and head to the waterfront for Ahi Kā, a multimedia display featuring projections, performances, installations and food trucks. There will also be fireworks over the harbour on June 24.

SOUTH ISLAND

Ōtautahi Christchurch
Feast Matariki
Food-focused not-for-profit Eat New Zealand is hosting “national food celebration” Feast Matariki up and down the country between June and July. Those in Christchurch can book in for a dinner at the landmark Botanic Gardens on June 25, inside the event room of the on-site Ilex Cafe. It will include storytelling and kai (food) facilitated by Māori chefs and presenters. The four-course feast will feature native ingredients and indigenous cooking techniques, with an impressive centrepiece of whole pig slow-cooked over plum and cherry coals, served with wood-roasted tītī (muttonbird). There will also be kaimoana (seafood) cooked in bull kelp over hot oak coals, with kina (sea urchin roe) and condensed-milk mayo, plus rēwena (potato bread) and seaweed butter.

Aoraki Mount Cook
Matariki Mackenzie
There’s a three-day festival happening from June 24 in the Mackenzie region, around Aoraki Mount Cook and Lake Tekapō. The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve boasts some of the clearest skies for stargazing, and there is to be a ceremony atop Mount John on the public holiday morning with local iwi in attendance – plus guided star observations at night. There will also be a public talk on the Friday, featuring 2022 New Zealander of the Year Tā Tīpene O’Regan and other prominent speakers.

Lake Wānaka
Wānaka Matariki Event
Organised by community initiative Kahu Youth, Wānaka’s Matariki celebration on June 25 will see spectators treated to freshly cooked hāngī, kapa haka and fireworks, all framed by Wānaka’s spectacular scenery.

Tāhuna Queenstown
Matariki Arrowtown Lights
During a three-day cultural festival, kicking off on June 24, the story of Kā Muriwai Arrowtown’s Māori heritage will be retold through lighting and projections created by the South Island Light Orchestra and woven through Arrowtown’s main street. You can also see a performance of karakia (chanting) and waiata (songs), and learn the significance of the Matariki stars and their astronomical position in relation to New Zealand. If you’re keen to beat the chill, boutique cinema Dorothy Browns has special screenings of Māori-led films including Whale Rider, Whina and Waru.