NASA/courtesy of
NASA/courtesy of

Māori Cosmology

E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga karangaranga  maha

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Nau mai, haere mai ki te Ara Whānui ki te Rangi

At the time of our refurbishment, Carter Observatory was gifted with the Māori name Te Ara Whānui ki te Rangi, meaning "the expansive pathway to the heavens", by the tangata whenua (the people from this place) Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o te Ika.

Woven throughout the exhibition is Māori and Pacific Island astronomy, such as Te Ikaroa / the Milky Way, Papatuanuku / Mother Earth and Ranginui / Sky Father. The moment a visitor makes their way into the exhibition they are immersed in the Big Bang and the scientific version of the creation of the Universe through to today’s worlds, from Io and Te Kore through to the separation of Ranginui and Papatuanuku, as the two concepts intertwine to convey the same story.

Maui features strongly here too in the story of Maui taming the Sun retold in a children's interactive and an animated film in our theatre. The film, narrated by Prof. Peter Adds, reflects on the important role Maui played through various Pacific nations.

Navigation is a theme in our galleries and we speak on early Māori and Polynesian navigation along with early European navigation. This is presented in video clips and on the gallery walls and gives a wonderful insight into these highly respected navigation techniques.

Matariki / The Pleiades is also introduced in our Southern Skies Gallery and visitors will leave with an appreciation of the meaning of Matariki as well as understanding its importance in the Maramarataka / traditional Māori calendar.

Matariki can be translated in two different ways: Mata Riki (Tiny Eyes) or Mata Ariki (Eyes of God).  Some say Matariki is a mother surrounded by her six daughters, others suggest it is a male star. It is known by other names around the world: Subaru, the Seven Sisters and Messier 45.

Check out these websites for more information on Matariki and Puanga:

Maori Language Commission -

Wikipedia -

Te Ara Encyclopedia -

New -

Te Papa -

New Zealand Maori Tourism Council -

Carter Observatory runs an annual Matariki programme, a great opportunity to learn more about this increasingly important event. Keep an eye on our newsletter and event listings for details on this years event.

Contact details

phone: +64 4 910 3140

Carter Observatory, PO Box 893, Wellington 6140

See a map of how to find us