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Celebrating Matariki, the Māori New Year

Date Published: 15 June 2010

Spending time with whanau is an important element of the Matariki period.

This week marks the start of Matariki celebrations, a unique New Zealand event that heralds the beginning of the Māori New Year.

Matariki is the Māori name for the small cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, in the Taurus constellation.

In New Zealand the stars come into view low on the north-eastern horizon, appearing in the tail of the Milky Way in the last days of May or in early June, just before dawn.

Unique to New Zealand, Matariki is one of the most significant celebrations in the Maori calendar and Tourism New Zealand recognizes the importance of promoting this to the world.

"Matariki's uniqueness is recognized by Tourism New Zealand and it's something we've been looking at for a few years as to how we can develop awareness of the festival as a hook for international visitors," says Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler.

Later this month, Tourism New Zealand is hosting an international media familiarisation trip to promote Matariki to help build the profile of Māori New Year.

Media will be hosted in Waikato's Ngaruawahia with a gourmet feast and party at Turangawaewae Marae in celebration of this year's Matariki festivities. Developed by well-known New Zealander Hinewehi Mohi, the celebration will give the journalists a first-hand experience of what Matariki is about.

Māori culture is a major element of the New Zealand tourism industry with approximately 350-400 Maori tourism businesses in New Zealand.

Over time, Tourism New Zealand hopes to help create and profile this unique event as a hook for visitors. Matariki gives us the opportunity to show off our rich Maori culture, our country, our culture and the stories that link all that together, Kevin Bowler said.

The official 2010 Matariki festival runs from 14 June to 18 July.

Find out more information on Matariki

For a list of events taking place across New Zealand visit http://matarikievents.co.nz/

See events on Tourism New Zealand's events page

Find out more about what TNZ is doing to support Māori tourism