For the first time in its history, Great Barrier Island will be hosting a month-long star-focused Matariki Festival to mark the Māori New Year.
Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. The word literally means 'eyes of god' (mata ariki) or 'little eyes' (mata riki). According to Māori mythology, when Ranginui (god of the sky), and Papatūānuku (mother earth), were separated by their children (who were fairly being sort of suffocated by their embrace), Tāwhirimātea (the god of the wind), became so genuinely angry about it that he decided to tear his eyes out and throw them into the sky, where they stuck and became stars. A completely fair reaction.
The festival will include a month-long outdoor photo exhibition of dark sky photos across the country, a dawn ceremony on June 30, moon dancing, talks on the basics of astronomy, asteroids, star navigation, the sound of space, how to measure space and Mars. Astronomy Photographer of the Year, Mark Gee, will also be hosting astrophotography workshops with limited spaces from June 11 to 15. It also falls in line with Great Barrier becoming the world's first island to be recognised as a Dark Sky Sanctuary.
See the full program here.