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Tīrama Mai ~ Bringing the Light

Ngā Toi Māori, Te Toi Ataata, Visual Arts

Tīrama Mai is a light festival for Ōtautahi like no other.  The festival begins on Friday June 24, and is produced by the Events and Arts team at Christchurch City Council. The festival has been created to celebrate Puanga and Matariki, and it responds to community aspirations for greater support for Māori arts and recognition of Matariki –New Year.

In the development Toi Otautahi, the city’s arts strategy and the Community Events Implementation Plan, Matariki was highlighted as an event the community and the arts sector wanted to see more support of. This dovetails with the arts strategy itself which prioritises ngā toi Māori.

“Acknowledging Puanga and Matariki through an event which engages local Māori designers and performers to give meaning and shape to the celebration, was a no brainer,” Says Council’s Principal Arts Advisor Kiri Jarden. “The fact that Matariki will become a national holiday this year makes Tīrama Mai more meaningful and an awesome opportunity for local Māori storytellers, artists and designers to be engaged.”

Jarden acknowledges that Covid 19 precipitated new ways of doing and planning at Council including the events delivered by Events and Arts team. “While locals might recall Botanic D’lights, we felt the time had come to revitalise the event, and with Covid changing the landscape we had the opportunity to transition to this new format at an accelerated pace.”

Mana whenua representatives have provided planning guidance to the Council team while a number of Māori creatives are now involved in developing work for  Tīrama Mai, including design companies Ariki Creative and Māui Studios who work largely in virtual reality, gaming, film and graphic design.

“Both agencies are at the vanguard of creating work from a Māori perspective. They are storytellers working in digital media,” says Jarden.

Alongside their design and VR work, Ariki have been involved in a number of rebuild projects across the city, including at the University of Canterbury, the New Brighton Beachside Playground, and the central city Bus Interchange. For Tīrama Mai, Ariki have designed large light cubes that will debut along The Terrace, near Te Pae.

Māui Studios have a growing body of work in animation and gaming and their experience in this field led to the invitation to create characters for each of the ten stars highlighted as part of the Māori New Year: Puanga (or Puaka in southern dialect), Matariki, Tupuānuku, Tupuārangi, Waitī, Waitā, Waipunarangi, Ururangi, Pōhutukawa, and Hiwa-i-te-rangi.

Tīrama Mai adds to the suite of Matariki programmes Council is delivering and supporting throughout the city. Through the city libraries the experienced Māori Services team will be delivering arts and crafts workshops and a storytelling session while the city Parks unit is supporting restoration planting in Christchurch parks and also hosting a night walk at Pūharakekenui Styx River.


When: Friday 24 June, 2022 through Sunday 3 July, 2022

Where: Events and lighting displays throughout the Ōtautahi

Cost: Free entry



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