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Matariki, commodity culture, and multiple identities

The event known as Matariki, the rising of the Pleiades in winter, which Māori take as the mark of the beginning of a new year, was not a strong feature of the wider public sphere for most of the 20th century. Since 2001, however, when Te Taura Whiri, the Māori Language Commission, published an explanatory booklet with the aim of reviving interest in Matariki as an aide to the maintenance of te reo, it has been promoted by several quasi-governmental institutions, especially the national museum, Te Papa, as a winter festival for all New Zealanders. Its main public presence to date has been through media products: posters, banners, websites, television programmes, newspaper features, calendars, some theatrical performances and physical commemoration ceremonies. The larger project, of which this paper represents an initial descriptive and positioning phase, is a continuation of the researcher's long-standing interest in the intersections of religiosity, culture, and media as they are active in the environment of Aotearoa New Zealand. It assumes, building on theorists such as Bellah and Lundby that the creation of such festivals is an act of 'civil religiosity' that attempts to create and strengthen national community around a set of numinous symbols. However, the development of an enterprise such as Matariki is pursued in a complex political field, where broad agreement across various factions is needed before the festival can take on an enduring material and symbolic existence. In investigating the factors that will determine the future of Matariki it is relevant to consider the interaction of three factors in particular: the ethno-political history of New Zealand; the characteristics of contemporary reflexive spirituality, which are intertwined with commodificatory tendencies and thirdly, the impacts of increasing globalisation on the parameters of identity-formation for citizens in late-modern societies.
Conference Contribution
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Hardy, A. (2011). Matariki, commodity culture, and multiple identities. In A. Henderson (Ed.), Refereed proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association conference: Communication on the edge 2011, Hamilton, New Zealand, July 6-8.
Australian and New Zealand Communication Association
This article has been published in proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association conference: Communication on the edge 2011. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Australian License.