Rotorua Museum will host a free Matariki talk with acclaimed Maori astronomer Dr Rangi Matamua.

Starting at 6.30pm this Thursday, Rangi (Ngai Tuhoe) will give a talk about Matariki - from its origins to the place it has in today's society.

He is a senior lecturer at the School of Maori and Pacific Development at Waikato University, and has undertaken significant research in the areas of Maori language revitalisation, Maori culture, Maori astronomy and broadcasting.

He has also produced a number of publications in his specialist areas, and sits on several related boards including the Society for Maori Astronomy Research and Traditions (SMART).

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Rotorua Museum event co-ordinator Kathy Nicholls says this is the fourth time Rotorua Museum has hosted Rangi and the second year they have had to hold his talk at a large venue to allow for its popularity.

She says they had nearly 300 people attend the talk last year, which is the largest crowd for a single speaker ever hosted by the Rotorua Museum.

"Rangi is a fantastic speaker with a passion for Maori astronomy and in particular Matariki.

"It is a great opportunity for people to come along to understand more about the history of Matariki and why we celebrate it today.

Kathy says it is also a great chance for teachers to learn more now that Matariki is taught in schools.

Copies of Rangi's recently published book Matariki: The Star of the Year will be available to buy and he will be in the foyer after the talk to sign copies.

Kathy says this will be the first time his book will be for sale, as it was only published a couple of months ago.

It can be bought before and after the talk for $35 each.

Matariki - tiny eyes or eyes of God - is a cluster of nine stars which reappear in the Southern skies during the cold months of winter signalling the beginning of the Maori New Year.

People are encouraged to arrive early to secure a place, which are allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Doors open at 6pm Thursday June 22 and the talk will start at 6.30pm.

For more information, contact Kathy Nicholls on (07) 351 8456 or email kathy.nicholls@rotorualc.nz.