Celebrity News

Kiwi stars reveal what Matariki means to them

We talk to local luminaries about what the celebration means to them
Celebrities edited into a starry backgroundPictures: Jae Frew

If you’ve already read up on what the Matariki stars mean and why we celebrate the holiday, it’s time to join us as we chat to some familiar faces about how they prefer to spend the holiday.

Hear from Mānawatia A Matariki broadcasters Stacey Morrison & Mātai Smith, The Edge Breakfast radio host Clint Randell, comedian Janaye Henry as well as other proud Māori celebrities.


Stacey Morrison & Mātai Smith

Flava radio host, Te Arawa & Ngāi Tahu & TV presenter, Rongowhakaata, Ngāi Tamanuhiri

Matariki TV broadcasters Stacey Morrison and Mātai Smith sitting back-to-back

How has your life changed since last Matariki?

Stacey: I turned 50 – that’s crazy! I’m kind of shocked to still be here but very grateful because my mum never made it to 50 and my nana never made it to 50.

Mātai: My niece has had a baby who’s the first mokopuna and also great-grandchild in our whānau. His name is Raekahu and he’s my absolute world. My younger brother passed away suddenly four years ago, so I’ve kind of taken over the mantle of being Raekahu’s koro and I love it. He’s the apple of my eye!

How will this year’s Mānawatia A Matariki broadcast differ from last year’s?

Stacey: We’ll be into Te Waipounamu, which is very exciting and will be chillier! We’ve been at Te Papa and Rotorua, and now we’ll be in Wānaka.

Mātai: Stacey and I will be broadcasting live from Treble Cone, so no doubt we will be in our thermals and beanies this time as I hear the snow is already there.

What parts do you think you will you find the most emotional?

Mātai: It’s the incantation or karakia given to the star Pōhutukawa that always gets me as we remember those loved ones or dear friends who have passed on over the year.

Stacey: For me, it will be being at home in Te Wai Pounamu with Ngāi Tahu hosting. I have nieces, nephews and whānau who will be part of the hautapu [sacred offering to the stars], so I’m already feeling proud for them. It’s been a big journey for our iwi to reclaim that understanding.

How will you be celebrating Matariki this year?

Stacey: At all my kids’ events! There’s the national kapa haka competition for secondary schools, which one of our children is involved in, so there’ll be a massive celebration. I also carefully planned to have my birthday around Matariki – I’m a Matariki baby – and there’s always kai!

Mātai: I’m actually heading to Auckland to support my gym Metcon Mauri in a bilingual CrossFit competition called Mātātoa at Spark Arena. I’ll then hopefully head to Hamilton for the LAB and Corella concert to sing the night away, as I gaze up at the stars both up in the sky and on the stage.

Have you made any resolutions or intentions?

Mātai: I’ve signed up to do the IronMāori event in Napier later this year, but I also need to stop traversing the world and countryside, and start concentrating on my whare and the long-overdue renovations that I’ve been putting off for some time!

Stacey: One of my intentions is to be where it’s most important for me to be.

Catch Mānawatia A Matariki from 6am Friday on TVNZ 1, TVNZ+, Three, Sky Open, Whakaata Māori, RNZ and iwi radio.


Awa Puna

Ahikāroa actress, Ngāti Kahungunu & Ngāi Tūhoe

Awa Puna sitting with her legs to her right, leaning on her left arm

What does Matariki mean to you?

Matariki is a time of reflection and celebration for me. A celebration of where we have come from, all that has happened and also a reminder to acknowledge everything that has led us to where we are today.

How will you celebrate it this year?

I’m heading down to Rotorua for the weekend.

How have you marked Matariki in the past?

When I was a kid, families in Raumati South would light lanterns and make a small trek starting at the dairy, through the ngahere [forest] to get to the community hall, where we played live music and danced all night.

What resolutions or intentions will you set for the new year?

To spend more time with my whānau. I live away from a lot of my family, so it can make it hard sometimes and especially in the line of work I do, but I just want to see them more.


Acushla-Tara Kupe

The Gone actress, Ngāti Maniapoto

Acushla Tara-Kupe edited onto a Matariki star background

What does Matariki mean to you?

To me, Matariki is a time to remember those who’ve passed away, renew my resolutions for the year and also to delve a bit deeper into my Māoritanga.

How will you celebrate it this year?

I hope to get up before dawn to watch the rising of Matariki with whānau and friends, but I will have just finished filming season two of The Gone the day before, so I could well be fast asleep after a pretty intense work schedule!

How have you marked Matariki in the past?

My favourite memory is standing with one of my best friends and my cousin at Maungawhau, reciting karakia and singing waiata, followed by kai tahi [eating together] at a local café.


Clint Randell

The Edge Breakfast radio host, Te Rarawa

Clint Randell edited onto a Matariki star background

What does Matariki mean to you?

Honest answer? Probably the same as it does to most New Zealanders – it’s a long weekend to enjoy a break from the busyness of life and another chance to have a go at the resolutions that might not have stuck from January!

How will you celebrate it this year?

This is going to be one that I play totally by ear. Sometimes no plans are also the best plans.

How have you marked Matariki in the past?

Last year, we celebrated it alongside a midwinter Christmas party, weirdly marking the halfway mark and the start of a new year!

What resolutions or intentions will you set for the new year?

Slow down! Lately I’ve been adding more and more to the mix, and unintentionally making it quicker than it needs to be.


Ngahuia Piripi

Shortland Street actress, Te Rarawa

Ngahuia Piripi leaning on the back of a couch

What does Matariki mean to you?

Matariki for me is allowing chapters to close and planning for new ones to begin. It’s special to me because, well, ko te tau hou Māori [it’s the Māori new year].

How will you celebrate it this year?

I always celebrate it with good kai and whānau. This year, I’m manifesting something like kaimoana or a ha¯ngı¯ made by my partner Teone [Kahu].

How have you marked Matariki in the past?

My favourite Matariki memory is when I was first able to see and count all the stars. It was while I was in one of my most favourite places in the world, at the Matariki ki Ahipara festival.

What resolutions or intentions will you set for the new year?

Let’s just say new business ventures are on the horizon. and it’s something I have to look forward to.


Teone Kahu

Former Shortland Street star, Te Pakakohi, Ngāti Wheke & Ngāti Kahu

Teone Kahu in a denim jacket in front of a black background

What does Matariki mean to you?

It’s not just about being Māori – Matariki is a time bridge connecting me to those who gazed at these same stars before and those who will come after. It’s a reminder that we’re all part of Aotearoa’s ongoing story.

How will you celebrate it this year?

This Matariki, I am thrilled to launch Te Agency, my background talent agency. It’s designed to feel like a whānau, not just a company, nurturing our talent with better pay and more support.

How have you marked Matariki in the past?

Since Matariki became a public holiday, we gather every year with our loved ones to enjoy my famous pāua pies and hāngī. My darling’s stuffing is legendary! The tamariki play with their cousins while we indulge in the simple joys of whānau time under the stars.

What resolutions or intentions will you set for the new year?

I’ll plant new kākano [seeds], both literally and metaphorically.


Tegan Yorwarth

Mai Morning Crew radio host, Te Aupōuri & Ngāti Kurī

Tegan Yorwarth leaning on DJ decks to discuss Matariki

What does Matariki mean to you?

I love Matariki as it feels like a time I can reflect on the year that has passed, sit in the moment a little, then give myself a bit of a reset for the year ahead.

How will you celebrate it this year?

This year, I will be spending Matariki with my whānau in Papamoa. It always also serves as a wee reminder to make the time for those that matter most.

How have you marked Matariki in the past?

Even prior to the country celebrating Matariki as a national holiday, I’ve always spent time setting intentions for the incoming months at this time of the year. Personal goals, professional goals and also financial goals as well.

What resolutions or intentions will you set for the new year?

This year, I want to spend time investing in my health – something as simple as prioritising being more active, nurturing my body and eating a little better. I’ll fuel myself in a way that has my brain and body working more efficiently, then letting all the rest of the good stuff follow!


Janaye Henry

Comedian, Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa

Janaye Henry on stage holding a mic to discuss Matariki

What does Matariki mean to you?

Matariki is a time I intentionally celebrate, reflect and release.

How will you celebrate it this year?

I’m actually going to be in England this Matariki, which I do feel a bit sad about, so I will be finding all the Māori around me, then we’ll eat a yum dinner together and look at the sky. I’ll probably also be FaceTiming whānau heaps back home.

How have you marked Matariki in the past?

My favourite Matariki memory is when I first moved into the flat I’m in now. I met Josh Aoraki, who is my best friend and a deeply talented Māori astronomer, at the Stardome observatory. Our first Matariki, we climbed Maungakiekie [One Tree Hill], then watched Matariki rise, sung to the whetū [stars] and had a potluck meal for our friends. I’m grateful to Josh for being so generous with his knowledge and also for being such a pou [support] in my life.

What resolutions or intentions will you set for the new year?

All the usual suspects – more time in nature, with friends and with whānau. I also want to continue my reo journey and not let fear get in the way.


Bella Kalolo-Suraj

Shortland Street actress, Ngāti Porou

Bella Kalolo-Suraj edited onto a Matariki star background

What does Matariki mean to you?

To me, Matariki has an air of newness, rebirth, and the remembrance of whānau who have passed and the hope for better things to come.

How will you celebrate it this year?

I think I’ll celebrate Matariki this year by trying to make hāngī. Good luck to me!

How have you marked Matariki in the past?

Spent it with whānau and also lots of friends.

What resolutions will you set for the new year?

Honestly, I just want to be a good human who is considerate of people all year round, irrespective of resolutions or intentions.


Trae Te Wiki

Under The Vines actress, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Kahungunu & Ngāpuhi

Trae Te Wiki standing in a vineyard with her arms crossed

What does Matariki mean to you?

Matariki is the time to reflect, check in and give back. Never underestimate the power of marking a moment!

How will you celebrate it this year?

I’ll be going to a Maori drag show called The Tīwhas: A Matariki Spectacular! It’s on at Wellington’s Circa Theatre until the 29th of June. I come from a family of performers and we’re so excited to watch my 11-year-old brother make his debut!

How have you marked Matariki in the past?

A few years ago, my good friend and I celebrated by going bush, up Taranaki Mounga [Mt Taranaki]. While we stayed overnight in a DoC hut, the experience was unreal. You really can’t beat that feeling of being immersed in te taiao [nature].

What resolutions or intentions will you set for the new year?

My partner and I will be celebrating almost six months of parenting! I’m so grateful for the clarity this journey of māmāhood has given me. This year is all about investing time and energy into our pēpi. We’re realigning with our goals and focusing on the future of our growing whānau.

Get tickets to see The Tīwhas: A Matariki Spectacular online at eventfinda.co.nz

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