Te Ao Māori / Technology

Centre to showcase Māori astronomy opens on Tekapō lakefront

14:12 pm on 3 July 2019

South Island iwi Ngāi Tahu has opened a new Dark Sky experience at the world's largest dark sky reserve, which includes an indoor multimedia experience showcasing Māori astronomy.

The indoor multimedia experience, Rehua, at the Tekapō lakefront in the Mackenzie District will showcase Māori astronomy. Photo: Supplied / Ngāi Tahu

The Dark Sky Project was a three-year undertaking and a joint venture between Ngāi Tahu Tourism and co-founders Graeme Murray and Hide Ozawa.

The site at the Tekapō lakefront in the South Island's Mackenzie District will now house a 45-minute educational screen show that combines science and Māori astronomy. The centre also includes evening stargazing experiences.

The reserve also houses a 125-year-old Brashear Telescope, which was in storage for five decades before being restored in Fairlie over the past two years.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu deputy kaiwhakahaere Matapura Ellison said the reserve was an opportunity to show the world mātauranga Māori.

"We've had a history of telling our stories for other people to tell in their businesses throughout the motu. Here we've got a chance to tell our stories in our own business, which can be told in our own unique way.

"It's contributing to the growth of the mātauranga of Ngāi Tahu, reexploration retelling and relearning of the star pathways in this wonderful complex."

The Brashear Telescope will be kept at the site. Photo: Supplied / Ngāi Tahu

David Higgins, a rūnanga member from the Tekapō working party, said the reserve was about preserving the knowledge of his tūpuna.

"I come from a coastal rūnanga, a coastal marae, who understand the star constellations and the importance of those star constellations to maritime journeys.

"To be able to share that knowledge with others across the world is very important to our people at home."

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai said $3 million in government funding provided by the Tourism Growth Partnership fund in 2016 was the kick-start the $11m development needed.

"The Dark Sky Project is a world-class tourism experience that exhibits the values that unite us and our Ngāi Tahutanga," she said.

"It will further enhance the Ngāi Tahu contribution to regional development and job creation - mō tātou, ā, mō ka uri ā muri ake nei. I truly commend mana whenua and all involved in the creation of an authentic experience that will see our ancestors' stories told to the world."