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The TV stars of Matariki (Image: Tina Tiller)
The TV stars of Matariki (Image: Tina Tiller)

Pop CultureJuly 12, 2023

The best TV specials to watch this Matariki

The TV stars of Matariki (Image: Tina Tiller)
The TV stars of Matariki (Image: Tina Tiller)

From drama to documentaries to cartoons for the kids, here’s all the best shows to help you celebrate Matariki this year.

The nine stars of Matariki aren’t the only stars you’ll see this Friday – as long as you’re watching the telly. This year our beloved gogglebox has a bumper selection of specials to inform and inspire us about the traditions and significance of Matariki, and this year’s theme of Matariki Kāinga Hokia (Matariki calls you home) shines through in everything from waiata and documentaries to movies and cartoons for the kids. It’s also a great chance to be entertained by stars like Stan Walker, Six60 and – wait for it – Goodnight Kiwi and Cat. 

The main event is Mānawatia a Matariki, a unique five-hour live broadcast that begins at dawn and screens across several networks, while Whaakata Māori is dedicating all of Friday’s programming to Matariki. Whatever way you and your whānau choose to honour Matariki this year, we’ve found some of the best TV viewing to help you celebrate. 

6.00am – Mānawatia a Matariki (multi-network) 

Stacey Morrison and Mātai Smith host Mānawatia a Matariki (Photo: Supplied)

Stacey Morrison (Te Arawa, Ngāi Tahu) and Mātai Smith (Rongowhakaata, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri) will lead the Matariki celebrations from Ngongotahā Mountain (Rotorua). The festivities begin at dawn with the traditional Hautapu ceremony, and the five-hour broadcast will cover celebrations across Aotearoa. Guests include Scotty Morrison, Jamus Webster, Dr Anaha Hiini, Rangitiaria Tibble and Professor Rangi Mātāmua.

Mānawatia a Matariki aims to inform and entertain by helping viewers to understand Matariki traditions and encouraging them to create new traditions of their own. The live broadcast will screen across multiple networks: TVNZ 1, TVNZ+, Three, Prime, Whakaata Māori, Pasifika TV, RNZ and Stuff.

7.30am – Kiwi and Cat: Mānawātia a Matariki (TVNZ 2, TVNZ+)

One for the tamariki in your whānau, as Kiwi and Cat go on an adventure to learn more about the stars of Matariki. Featuring cameos from several Kiwi stars, including Temuera Morrison, the Wellington Paranormal team, Dame Lisa Carrington, Benee and Jason Gunn.  

11.05am – Purapura Whetū: Stars of Matariki 2022 (Duke)

Take a trip back in time to last year’s Matariki music special, with stellar performances from Six60, Hollie Smith and Drax Project. (Also available on TVNZ+). 

11.30am – Matariki Explained (Prime)

Matariki is a public holiday, but why is it important? This special half-hour documentary explains the science and traditions behind Matariki, why Matariki is significant and the different ways we can acknowledge it. (Also available on YouTube and Neon). 

1.00pm – Beyond Matariki (Whakaata Māori)

Professor Rangi Matamua in Beyond Matariki (Screengrab: Whakaata Māori)

An easy-to-watch, informative documentary series hosted by Professor Rangi Mātāmua, who delves into why the Matariki star cluster is so important and how astronomy determines the Māori year. (Also available on demand).

4.35pm – Island of Mystery: Te Wā o Matariki (TVNZ 2)

A special Matariki episode of the animated children’s show sees Josh, Rangi and Kura work together to help Josh understand the Maramataka and then send him back to the future. (Also available on TVNZ+, Whakaata Māori and Prime). 

7.00pm – From Hongi to Hāngī and Everything in Between…This time it’s Matariki (TVNZ 1)

Tāmati Rīmene-Sproat hosts this episode of From Hongi to Hāngī, TVNZ’s factual series that wants to answer all your questions about te ao Māori. This episode focuses on how everyone in Aotearoa can embrace Matariki, and TVNZ describes it as a “warm-hearted, enlightening and inclusive approach toward celebrating our newest public holiday”.

8.00pmPurapura Whetū: Stars of Matariki (From 8pm on TVNZ+, TikTok)

Jordyn with a Why (Photo: TVNZ)

For the second year running, TVNZ+ and TikTok team up to deliver a night of waiata with this live music event. Hosted by singer Pere Wihongi and Celebrity Treasure Island fave Alex King, the 90-minute concert celebrates Matariki through the power of music and includes performances from Stan Walker, Paige, Jordyn with a Why, Muroki, Seth Haapu and Makayla Purcell-Mainini. 

10.05pm – Matariki (Whakaata Māori)

An award-winning movie from 2010 directed by Michael Bennett (The Gone) and starring Jared Waiwiri and Sara Wiseman. In the aftermath of a random act of violence, eight different people search for meaning and hope as Matariki rises in the southern skies.

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