Spark is making stories of Matariki more accessible to the entire country this year by launching an 0800 number that lets callers listen to nine immersive stories behind each star in the Matariki star cluster in either English or Te Reo Māori.
Each year, the star cluster of Matariki becomes visible in the morning sky, marking the dawn of the Māori New Year where traditionally, family and friends come together to enjoy kai (food), waiata (song), tākaro (games) and haka in celebration of new life, remembrance of those who have passed and to plan for the future.
The stories have been written with guidance from Rangi Matamua, Professor at the University of Waikato and were inspired by his book, Matariki: The star of the year, which is based on the Matariki stories from his ancestry of respected Māori Astronomers.
Each beautiful recording depicts the significance each star has over our wellbeing and environment through storytelling and is brought to life with an accompaniment of bespoke sounds from Aotearoa’s forests, birds and water as well as Māori instruments.
Spark has collaborated with Rangi along with radio presenter, Stacey Morrison, Te Karere host, Scotty Morrison and tikanga expert, Rhonda Tibble who have narrated the stories and helped guide the way they are told.
Rangi has spent the past 20 years researching Matariki and is passionate about helping to reconnect people with their environment through education and story-telling.
“During Matariki, the people come together to celebrate our rich cultural heritage by sharing the stories of our ancestors and passing them on to the next generation. It’s been a joy and a privilege working alongside Spark, Stacey, Scotty and Rhonda to help disseminate some of the narratives around Matariki as we get close to the mid-winter rising of Matariki,” said Rangi.
“This is a fantastic idea because from a cultural perspective, there is a completely different level of connection and understanding when you hear someone’s voice and all of the other elements that come with that.”
“Matariki was a massive festival in traditional times and it is quickly becoming a very significant festival thanks to initiatives such as 0800 MATARIKI. I’m really hoping that in the next 10 to 20 years, we will see real growth in this space and that Matariki goes from being more than just a festival in some places to something that is recognised by all New Zealanders as a national celebration and holiday.”
Spark Head of Māori Strategy, Lisa Paraku said that for centuries, Māori have passed stories of Matariki by oral traditions to future generations from within their marae, but that technology can help us to share this significant part of Māori culture with more New Zealanders.
“This Matariki, we’re using technology to bring these stories to life, amplifying them so the entire nation can pay tribute to the legends Māori have been celebrating for generations,” said Lisa.
“As part of Spark’s Māori strategy, we want to become a driver for cultural growth through meaningful partnerships and digital platforms and help normalise the use of Te Reo Māori. We are proud of our shared journey so far with the likes of Kupu, our own Spark waiata, Tuia te ao Māori Culture and Language mobile app to help Spark people incorporate Māori customs into every day work life, and this project is an excellent extension of this work.”
“Basic technology as simple as an 0800 number will give millions of Kiwis the opportunity to participate in Matariki which is a perfect example of how little really can be huge.”
To listen to the stories, simply call 0800 MATARIKI from a mobile or landline free of charge, find a comfy spot and enjoy the enchanted stories until your heart’s content. The stories are also available as a free Spotify podcast when you search 0800 MATARIKI in Spotify.