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Matariki messageAuckland Airport will celebrate New Zealand’s Matariki holiday on 14 July with dedicated PA announcements throughout the international and domestic terminals, greeting and farewelling travellers in te reo Māori and explaining the significance of Matariki.

In te reo Māori: Ka whakamānawa a Te Taunga Rerenga o Tāmaki Makaurau i a Matariki hei te 14 ō Hurai, mā te whakapāho atu i te iarere o te Taunga Rererangi, i ētahi kōrero hei mihi ki ngā kaieke waihoki hei whakamārama ake i te hiranga o Matariki. 

Auckland Airport Chief Executive Carrie Hurihanganui says Auckland Airport has “a unique opportunity to educate people about Matariki traditions as they arrive in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland”.

“The first thing travellers will hear when they land on Kiwi soil and disembark the plane, will be te reo Māori, and meaningful messages of Matariki, over our PA system, voiced by two school children and Auckland Airport team members who speak te reo Māori. Matariki is an important time for many of our Auckland Airport employees, and we want to share this with our travellers,” she said.


For many international visitors, it may be the first time they hear te reo Māori spoken. The original language of New Zealand and the Cook Islands is spoken fluently by just 4% of New Zealanders, according to the 2018 census, up from 3.7% in 2013. A higher proportion of New Zealanders understand, or speak, some Māori.

The language is undergoing a revival. Many New Zealand cities now list their Māori names alongside their English names, as in “Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland” or “Te Whanganui ā Tara Wellington”. (The latter title contains 26 letters, same as the whole English alphabet!) There is even a movement to make road signage bilingual and to make Aotearoa the official name of New Zealand.

In Māori culture, Matariki is the Pleiades star cluster (the Seven Sisters in Australian Aboriginal cultural tradition). A celebration of its first rising is held in late June or early July, marking the beginning of the new year in the Māori lunar calendar.

The date of Matariki varies annually, so in that respect it is more like Easter than Christmas. Matariki was first celebrated as an official public holiday in New Zealand last year, on 24 June 2022. This year, it falls this Friday, 14 July 2023.

For future planning, proposed dates of the holiday for the next 30 years have been determined by a Matariki Advisory Group drawn from iwi (Māori tribes) across New Zealand. The chosen date has been formalised as the Friday closest to the four days of the nights of Tangaroa in the lunar month Piripi. The dates vary from late June to mid-July but are always on Fridays.

This Friday, Auckland Airport’s particular Matariki PA messages are set to be heard by 52,000 pairs of taringa (ears), with a busy day expected at the airport on 14 July. More than 14,000 international travellers are expected to arrive, with 12,000 people expected to depart.  The domestic terminal will also be busy, with 13,000 arriving and 13,000 departing.

A sample of one of the PA announcements greeting travellers at international arrivals:  

  1. Nau mai ki Aotearoa, tau mai ki Tāmaki Makaurau. Tākina rā ko Pūanga e tōia nei a Matariki ki te pae. Mānawatia te wā, mānawatia te ātea, mānawatia ngā tohu o te tau hou Māori. Tukua tō manawa kia ngā i te mauri o Matariki. Tukua tō ngākau kia pīpiri atu ki te mahana o tō ahi kā. Tukua tō ate kia ngiha anō a mahara. Tukua ngā hara ki tua, kia wātea ai tō ātea ki mua. Mānawatia a Matariki.
  1. Welcome to Auckland, New Zealand. Today, we celebrate the rising of Matariki, the star cluster. For many Māori, it heralds the start of the New Year. As you step into Tāmaki Makaurau, immerse yourself in the magic of Matariki. For many, Matariki is a time to rest, reconnect with loved ones, reminisce about past times, realign with the present, and reset for the future. We wish you a bountiful year ahead. Mānawatia a Matariki.

International travellers at Auckland Airport will also continue to be welcomed by a karanga (a ceremonial call of welcome) as they walk through the tomokanga (the Māori carved entrance) upon arrival.

The PA announcements were recorded by a group of people, including two Auckland Airport employees who put their hands up to be involved: Gabriel Thompson – Duty Operations Manager and Mataio Masina – Deputy Crew Chief Operations.

Psalm-Aawhina Mahanga, a 15-year-old student from nearby Manurewa High School, and Ormiston Junior School pupil, seven-year-old Marlowe Aira Reid, joined them. Her koroua (grandfather), Te Whainoa Te Wiata, from Te Tari Consultants, also joined in. Te Whainoa works closely with Auckland Airport as one of the critical members delivering Auckland Airport’s internal te reo Māori courses.

“Te Whainoa is a great kaiako (teacher) to our employees who have been fortunate enough to learn from him,” Hurihanganui said.

“Not only do these courses help beginners and intermediates learn te reo Māori but it also helps with cultural competency and allows our people to learn key tikanga, or custom.

“These PA recordings have the opportunity to be something we can come back to and refresh time and time again, as a way to mark special occasions. Our team members were proud to be a part of this and we look forward to seeing reactions from travellers as they come through the terminals.”



Written by: Peter Needham