Matariki shines bright at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom

Published on June 05, 2020

Matariki Deep Space exhibition.

Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom is open again for visitors. And the first thing people will see when they walk into the gallery is a stunning image of the Matariki star cluster – part of a deep space photo exhibition.

“Matariki has been seducing people around the world with its shimmering beauty since times immemorial,” says Dr Stephen Chadwick, photographer of deep space and Lecturer in Philosophy at Massey University.

Dr Chadwick’s high-tech digital images of the stars – and beyond – are regularly exhibited in astronomy circles and at events, and he has authored books about the cosmos. Still, he considers it a privilege to show his work in Foxton – especially at this time of the year.

“I live in Himatangi, and come to Foxton for a good coffee and to just wander around, and enjoy the pretty sights. And right now – we are allowed to do that again, which is great. But to then open an exhibition featuring Matariki, at the same time? That’s great serendipity. The beginning of the Māori New Year, this time around, coincides with new beginnings for the entire country.”

Dr Chadwick has selected some of his most significant images for the ‘Matariki – Deep Space’ exhibition. The digital photographs show a universe that is impossible to see with the naked eye, or even an old-fashioned good telescope.

‘Matariki’ is meant to be an eye-opening exhibition – full of visual surprises.

Dr Chadwick says he hopes it will change the way some people look at and think about the space and galaxies that surround our small planet.

“These kinds of high-tech images would have been impossible to take 20 years ago. So it’s great to share them with a wider audience.”

More than 25 images show star clusters like Matariki, planets, galaxies, and brightly coloured nebulae.

“The psychedelic colours of our universe are striking. And the worlds beyond our solar system and the Milky Way are not only vast, but billions of years old, and ever-changing,” said Dr Chadwick.

Back in business

“We are very happy Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom is once again open to the public, and we are starting to see our regular visitors return,” says Wendy Fraser, Library Services Manager at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom. “On the first day, we had hundreds of returned overdue books, and many people came in to get new library books. Since that influx however, it’s been a bit quiet.”

“The Matariki – Deep Space images are another enticement for people to visit, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back. Of course, while they are here, they can also enjoy a coffee and a bite to eat at the Dutch Oven on most days.”

Māori New Year celebrations

The Matariki – Deep Space exhibition coincides with a number of Matariki activities and initiatives that are planned for Horowhenua.

“We are living through unusual times, so we are doing things a bit differently than in other years. But Matariki has been on the celebrations calendar for hundreds of years, so we’re not going to skip on that,” said Hendrix Warren, Cultural and Community Centre Manager at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom.

“I hope visitors will come and celebrate the arrival of the Māori New Year by gazing at stars and galaxies they’ve never seen before. In Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom you can witness Matariki up close – as if you were travelling by in a space ship. You can check out the eerie vastness and exceptional beauty of space.”

Mr Warren said having Dr Chadwick’s images displayed in the Shared Gallery is a great reminder of the spiritual importance of Matariki.

“We are celebrating the start of the Māori New Year in colourful and surprising ways, and I am convinced visitors will marvel at the beauty of what is on display.”

Modern and historic technology 

Dr Chadwick has been taking photos of deep space through a telescope since 2006, with a digital CCD (charged coupled device) camera on a moving mount that tracks the movement of the stars. His images are impossible to capture with traditional analogue photography.    

As part of the exhibition, the old 1890s Foxton Beach observatory telescope is on display. The telescope was originally installed by Nelson Bartlett in 1986 in the observatory, in time for the arrival of Halley’s comet. It was replaced by a modern telescope in 2015. 

The antique telescope is owned by Foxton Beach School, with the Horowhenua Astronomical Society acting as its caretaker and making it available for the exhibition.

Matariki – Deep Space: A View of the Stars and Beyond

Free access

The Shared Gallery   /   Friday 5 June to Sunday 23 August   /   From 10am – 4pm 

Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom – 92 Main Street, Foxton

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