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Mānawatia a Matariki

Mānawatia a Matariki

Posted by Lynette Townsend on 1st Jul 2024

The 2024 Matariki stamps represent artist Shane Hansen’s personal connection with the Māori New Year. In the following Shane explains how he has increasingly engaged with Matariki and how he and his whanau celebrate it today.

Matariki became an official public holiday in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2022, but many people have been celebrating Matariki for a lot longer. What are your earliest memories of Matariki?

To be honest, I didn't know of Matariki growing up. I grew up not knowing much at all about Te Ao Māori or my Māori whakapapa. My GoongGoong (Grandfather) was of Chinese heritage, so the Chinese New Year was celebrated each year. It has similar elements and values as Matariki. In the last few years, we have got together with whānau and friends to acknowledge our love for eachother, our fortune, and to remember. It's so cool Matariki has become a major event as it is something unique to Aotearoa and should be celebrated.

What does Matariki mean to you?

I'm a mid-winter baby, so Matariki is very appropriate for me. I like to pay attention to what's gone down and been achieved over the year and think about a positive path for the next year. Take some time to think about some of the challenges over the year, acknowledge those past and gather with loved ones. The cold and dark of winter is always hard for me, so focusing on mental and physical health is really important. I turn up the positive vibes during this time!

How do you and your whānau celebrate?

In my whānau we always take time out to share space. Winter walks, sitting by the fire, enjoying shared meals and catching up. Being all snug and warm in each other's company is our way to feel connected.

How have you communicated your personal connection or understanding of Matariki inyour art?

In the recent collection with NZ Post, I have shared my personal connection to Matariki. When I was studying at Te Wānanga o Aotearo, it opened up a new world of understanding of Matariki. Knowing the importance of Matariki to my Tupuna has made this time of year more significant and meaningful.Much of your art has been influenced by the environment that surrounds you. 

Are there any specific references from home in the Matariki artworks?

The Matariki artworks are very much influenced by my surroundings. I live in Tūtūkāka where the whenua and moana are part of life. The forms used reference the environment that surrounds me, the mauri and wairua which it breathes. Te Tūī is my kaitiaki, he is always around. This is his home as it is mine.

You have said that your art is your therapy. Do the Matariki artworks have any special relevance to this aspect of your practice?

My art is my therapy! It is something I HAVE to do in order to feel myself. This Matariki collection helped me to process a few things and reignite myself for Te Tau Hou. The colour palette used references my feelings expressed in each piece. Colour plays an important role in all my artworks. I use a lot of vibrant, rich and bright colours as they energise, lift and brighten my mood.

What other art projects do you have underway?

I tend to take things slow during this time. I'm spending moments experimenting with styles and new materials. Currently, I am working on some design aspects for a renovation project on our whare. I like to personalise the places and spaces that I live within. Enjoying this process!

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