The Rotorua Museum's Matariki Whanau Night is a fantastic chance to celebrate whanau and Maori culture, according to museum event co-ordinator Kathy Nicholls.

The popular event continues to captivate the public with numbers increasing every year.

"Matariki Whanau Night is one of Rotorua Museum's key annual events. Over the last three years attendance has doubled with last year's Whanau Night welcoming more than 300 visitors through the doors. This year we have changed some of the performances to offer new experiences and hope to reach our target of around 400 people to this special event," she said.

As a result of the popularity, advanced bookings are essential and two sessions will run tomorrow.


The appearance of the star cluster in the southern skies was traditionally the time to remember those who had passed on, but it was also a happy event, she said. It was a time when the harvests were collected and with the storehouses full, Maori would celebrate.

"Today, Matariki celebrations happen all over the country and allow us to come together to celebrate the unique land and culture in which we live. Matariki has grown in popularity to be widely recognised as a uniquely 'New Zealand Thanksgiving'," said Ms Nicholls.

Tomorrow, the story of Te Ao (The World) will be experienced through Maori puppets and instruments by harnessing the talents of James Webster and his team. Mr Webster (Tainui, Te Arawa) is a multi-disciplined artist specialising in ta moko, sculpture, painting and other mixed media. He is a member of Haumanu which is reviving the instrument making of Maori musical instruments.

As well as learning about Te Ao, people attending will enjoy interactive story-telling sessions and kapa haka performances from local schools. Throughout the evening visitors can enjoy face painting and a range of Matariki themed crafts. They will also have the chance to explore the newly opened family and science based exhibition Sunlight.

During the Matariki Whanau Night the Museum Cafe will be open until 8.30pm.

For further information contact Rotorua Museum -

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James Webster is talking about the history of Maori musical instruments and puppetry on Sunday at 1.30pm at the museum.


* What: Matariki Whanau Night

* Where: Rotorua Museum

* When: Tomorrow 5pm-7pm, 7pm-9pm

* How much: Adult $5, child $3, under-5 free.