12 May 2012

Matariki at Te Papa coincides with transit of Venus

8:28 am on 12 May 2012

Celebrations for matariki - the Maori new year - at Te Papa Tongarewa will this year coincide with a rare astronomical event.

Observations around New Zealand of the transit of Venus on 6 June will lead in to events celebrating matariki at the museum, with the Matariki Gala - the premiere event of the festival - on 8 June.

The theme for this year's events at the national museum is Nga Kete o te Wananga (baskets of knowledge) which will focus on Tainui traditions.

It will share the story of Tawhaki - a Tainui ancestor who defied all odds by climbing up to the heavens and gaining worldly knowledge on his journey, which he shared with his people.

No one alive today has seen a transit of Venus from New Zealand. The most recent transit in June 2004 was visible only from the other side of the Earth, and before that the previous transit was in December 1882. The next will not be until the year 2117.