Emily Karaka: Matariki Ring of Fire

Matariki Ring of Fire follows Emily Karaka’s 2021 McCahon House residency. The exhibition centres on the festival of Matariki, which is being marked by a public holiday for the first time in 2022, the Matariki star cluster, and the fourteen Tūpuna Maunga of the Tāmaki Makaurau region. Matariki represents a moment of reflection and renewal, with the whetū heralding ceremonies and the seasonal harvest. Whānau, hapū, and iwi come together to celebrate life and share stories of those who have passed on. Karaka depicts the Tūpuna Maunga as places of great significance, where ritual ahi (fires) were set during Matariki in times past.

Matariki Ring of Fire also acknowledges Karaka’s connection to Waikato-Tainui and the Kīngitanga. A key inspiration for the show is the Matariki 2019 dawn ceremony at Pukekawa Auckland Domain, which she attended. Presided over by Kīngi Tūheitia, the proceedings commenced in the dark and concluded with karakia as the sun rose. The artist looked to the dawn sky and farewelled her great-nephew, Starr Karaka, who had been born and had passed away the day before, departing with the other ‘blessed souls’ on Te Waka o Rangi, bound for the heavens. Matariki Ring of Fire is dedicated to him.

Image: Emily Karaka, Te Ahi Kā o Ngā Tūpuna Maunga, 2022

18 June - 18 September 2022

Photos by Sam Hartnett


Francis McWhannell writes about Emily Karaka’s 2021 exhibition, Rāhui

Karaka's 1997 exhibition Waharoa o Ngai Tai at Te Tuhi

Waharoa o Ngai Tai publication featuring an essay by Witi Ihimaera (pdf, 1.3 mb)

On whakapapa and sovereignty in the work of Emily Karaka

Emily Karaka at McCahon House