Matariki

ARONUI Indigenous Arts Festival

Cian Elyse White

Mataia Keepa

27 & 28 June 2024

Rotorua Lakefront | Kouramāwhitiwhiti

Date and time

27 & 28 June 2024

8pm (with Night Markets from 5.30pm)

Entry

FREE

Accessibility

Date and time

27 & 28 June 2024
8pm (with Night Markets from 5.30pm)

Entry

FREE

Accessibility

Presented by ARONUI Indigenous Arts Festival

ARONUI Indigenous Arts Festival with First Lights presents Matariki, a drone light, sound and story event this midwinter at the Rotorua Lakefront, Aotearoa.

Created by Māori artists Cian Elyse White (Ngāti Pikiao) and Mataia Keepa (Ngāti Whakaue), Matariki (the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades) tells the stories of environmental markers connected to this star cluster, as well as the large Waka or Canoe (Te Waka o Rangi) and it’s captain Taramainuku. Throughout the year, Taramainuku traverses the sky with a large net, collecting the souls of those who have passed away across the year.

During the month of May, Te Waka o Rangi sails beneath the horizon, rising again in June/July. When it rises, Taramainuku casts his net into the sky, releasing the collected souls to be immortalised forever as stars.

Signalling the start of a new year, Matariki invites audiences to look to the night sky and consider their human connection to the celestial realm.

Artists and Narrators: Cian Elyse White and Mataia Keepa featuring Rangitiaria Tibble
Music: James Webster
Sound Design: Envelope Audio (Ned Beckley)
Animation: Jarrad Russell
Produced by Aronui Arts Festival, First Lights (Fremantle Biennale) and Stellar Lights

About the artists

ARONUI Indigenous Arts Festival

ARONUI is a boldly Indigenous arts festival located within the heart of Aotearoa’s volcanic epicentre, Te Rotoruanui-a-Kahumatamomoe. 

With Mana (pride), Mauri (energy) & Manawa (heart), ARONUI is helmed by key Iwi leaders and world-class, award-winning artists in the heart of Aotearoa’s leading Māori arts district, making this festival a direct incentive developed, designed & driven by Manawhenua (Iwi of the land).

Cian Elyse White

Cian Elyse White (Te Arawa, Ngāti Porou, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa, Tainui) is a multidisciplinary artist and festival director; having started her career as an actor, writer, and director for the stage & screen. Cian Elyse trained at Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School, and has worked as an arts professional ever since. Born and raised in Rotorua, New Zealand, Cian gained traction for her award-winning short film Daddy’s Girl (Kōtiro), which she wrote and directed, and her Te Reo Māori short PIIKSI/HUIA, which was selected for the Seattle International Film Festival & Blacklight film festival 21/22. Cian also directed the 2020 NZTV Award-nominated series Living By The Stars with Professor Dr. Rangi Mātāmua, and has written and storylined for TV shows such as
Ahikāroa and Head High. She also has two SWANZ for best new writer & best play ‘Te Puhi’.

Cian Elyse also appeared in the feature film Cousins, and the TV series My Life Is Murder and VEGAS. Cian Elyse is passionate about championing kaupapa Māori films and uplifting the voice of wāhine Māori in storytelling. In May 2023, Cian was selected as a fellow for the SUNDANCE Film Institute Native Lab, and attended a two week intensive in Santa Fe, NM. In January this year, Cian travelled to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Cian is currently writing her first feature film, ‘TE PUHI’ (The Princess), inspired by the crowning of the first Māori Miss NZ. It will shoot in Rotorua & London late 24 early 25. Alongside her filmmaking and acting careers, Cian is the Festival director for ARONUI Arts Festival. This is a role in which Cian gives back to her iwi and hometown, whilst continuing to create and bring stories to life using different arts mediums.

Mataia Keepa

Mataia Keepa, of Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Maniapoto and Te Arawa, is a passionate Māori Language and Cultural Advisor and the founder of iKōrero Ltd., where he shares his expertise in the language and culture worldwide. Alongside his advisory work, Mataia is also the creative mind behind Indigenous Armour, a clothing brand that celebrates indigenous culture and identity. Currently, Mataia is dedicated to delivering Te Pīnakitanga ki te reo Kairangi online and face to face in Gisborne, a Māori language program focused highly on the excellence of the Māori language. In his free time, Mataia finds joy in pursuing his hobbies of waka ama and weightlifting, staying connected to his roots with a strong focus on Māori health and well-being. With interests spanning across Māori spirituality, astronomy, weaponry, and the significance of Matariki, Mataia brings a wealth of knowledge and perspective to his work. His academic achievements include earning a First Class Honours at Waikato University, graduating from Te Panekiretanga o te reo Māori and Te Mata Punenga, and currently pursuing a Ph.D in the revival of Karakia Māori. Mataia Keepa’s dedication to preserving and promoting the Māori language and culture shines through in all aspects of his work, making him a respected figure in his community and beyond.

Photo: Esperance Tjaltjraak Native Title Aboriginal Corporation, First Lights – Boodja Dwordak Wirn, 2023
Courtesy of the artists and Fremantle Biennale. Photo: Jarrad Russell.

Partners

Principal Partner


Presenting Partner