The seven stars of Matariki are the inspiration behind Night Lights, a bright and colourful event taking place in the evenings at MOTAT in Auckland. It’s more than just a celebration of the Maori New Year; it’s also a recognition of New Zealand, its artists, and their creativity.
MOTAT is Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology. Typically a daytime destination, the museum is creating a name for itself with engaging evening and nighttime events.
Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. The seven stars of Matariki rise in late May or early June, marking the start of the Maori New Year. This is winter in the southern hemisphere.
We attended MOTAT’s opening of Night Lights. While it didn’t feel like there was a lot to see or do, we found ourselves busy from the start of the event until closing.
Enjoy Portions of MOTAT Museum
In addition to the special exhibits and activities to celebrate the seven stars of Matariki, much of the main museum was open. In addition to the images below, we noticed the pump room boiler was fired up, the old historic village was available for inspection, and the idea collective was open.
More about Matariki
- The star cluster of the seven stars of Matariki is visible to the naked eye from various places around the world and has different names. In Maori it is Matariki, translating as the ‘eyes of God’; Pleiades or the Seven Sisters are the English names; in Hawaiian, it is Makali‘i, or ‘eyes of royalty’; and in Japan, it is Subaru translating to ‘gathered together’.
- To see the seven stars of Matariki from New Zealand, look to the north-east horizon from early June. First, find Orion’s Belt, then trace an imaginary line to the north until you see the faint sparkle of tiny dots. You can see Matariki after sunset during summer.
- Only some New Zealand Iwi (tribes) consider the reappearance of the seven stars of Matariki as the beginning of the Māori New Year. Others use Rigel (in the constellation Orion) as a signal for the new year.
- Matariki is one of the star clusters nearest to Earth. It is not a constellation.
- Historically, experts used the brightness of the seven stars of Matariki to predict the next harvest season.
- In celestial navigation, the seven stars of Matariki are a key astronomer’s tool.
More About MOTAT Museum and Night Lights:
- Night Lights runs from 6 pm to 9 pm until 25 June 2017.
- Food options include MOTAT’s cafe, a Māori food truck with a modern twist, and a lolly making station.
- Tickets can be purchased directly from MOTAT’s website.
- MOTAT is in the Western Springs neighbourhood of Auckland, at 805 Great North Road. There is free event parking at the Western Springs field.
- The museum is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm (excluding Christmas). The third Sunday of each month is usually a Live Day. For more details check out their official website: MOTAT – Museum of Transport and Technology.
- Entry to night time events requires separate tickets.
- Daytime entry includes both the main museum and the aviation hall. The Western Springs tram travels between the two.
MOTAT is one of my favourite New Zealand museums. Not only does it offer hands-on family learning and a separate aviation display hall, it also has special/travelling events throughout the year (like Night Lights or Da Vinci Machines) as well as a spooky event for Halloween and charitable events in the Christmas season.
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Have you been to a Matariki celebration? Can you see the seven stars of Matariki where you live?
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