MATARIKI - was celebrated on Friday, 14 July 2023

What is Matariki ?

Matariki is a special occasion in the New Zealand calendar which marks the start of the Māori New Year. Signified by the Matariki cluster of stars reappearing in our night sky, this is a time to reflect on the past year, celebrate the present, and plan for the year ahead.  On 24 June 2022, Aotearoa New Zealand celebrated Matariki as an official public holiday for the first time.

In Māori culture, Matariki is the name of the Pleiades star cluster and the celebration of its first rising in late June or early July. This marks the beginning of the new year in the Māori lunar calendar. Matariki is an abbreviation of ‘Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea (‘The eyes of the god Tāwhirimātea’). According to Māori tradition, the god of the wind, Tāwhirimātea, was so angry when his siblings separated their parents, Ranginui the sky father and Papatūānuku the earth mother, that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens. 

The Nine Stars of Matariki

Matariki – star of wellbeing. I’m te whaea mother Māori to all the other whetū(stars) in the Matariki cluster, and I’m the brightest star.

Things might look pōuri  (sad) sometimes, but I can light your way. Look up at me when I’m shining in the night sky, and I’ll bring you good luck, peace, and wellbeing. Noho ora mai  

Pōhutukawa - star associated with those that have passed onMāori – star of remembrance. I guide the dead across the night sky until they become stars. When the Matariki cluster sets, I lead the dead through the darkness. When the Matariki cluster rises, the dead take their place with me among the stars.  Look up at the night sky, and you will see your ancestors shining brightly.

Tipuānuku  associated with everything that grows within the soil to be harvested or gathered for food, star of food from the ground – the kūmara (sweet potato), the kāroti (carrot), the paukena (pumpkin).Storms and frosts – they come and go. I’m patient, keeping watch as the sun and rain nourish my slow growing things.  If I’m dim when I rise at Matariki, you won’t get as much kai (food) from the ground. If I’m bright, the next harvest will be a good one.

Tipuārangi  – one of the stars in Te Kāhui o Matariki, the Pleiades star of food from the sky – the bright berries of the karaka, the iti (little) fronds of the pikopiko (fern shoots), the fragrant kawakawa (pepper tree),the manu (birds) with their soft feathered wings. Hard to see me at Matariki? Kai(food) from the sky will be scarce. Am I nice and bright? There will be plenty of food from the sky.

Waitī  associated with all fresh water bodies and the food sources that are sustained by those waters, star of fresh water – awa (river),  roto (lake), and kōawa (stream). I watch over the things that live here – tuna tuna, koura (freshwater crayfish, the bright green watercress. Arawaru – that’s the sound of wai water Māori flowing into rivers, lakes, and streams.  If I’m dim when I rise, the food from fresh water will be scarce. If you can see me clearly, it will be bountiful.

Waitā is associated with the ocean, and food sources within it. Kaimoana from the ocean– seaweed, kina, and all kinds of ika (fish).   I’m like the ocean – calm one day, then whenewhene (rough) the next.  If I’m blurry when I rise at Matariki, you won’t get much kaimoana. If I’m bright and clear, you’ll get lots.

Waipunarangi is associated with the rain. Listen as it falls from the sky and washes over the earth, nourishing all living things. If you can’t see me clearly when I rise at Matariki, the year will bring lots of rain and maybe some flooding. If I’m bright and clear, the rain will be light.

Ururangi is associated with the winds. I blow through all things – trees, houses, the waves on the sea.  I’m pretty changeable. One day I’m gentle, then mea rawa ake (all of a sudden) I’m a storm!  If I’m hard to see when I rise at Matariki, the year will be windy. If I’m bright and clear, the winds will be calm.

Hiwa-i-te-rangi is associated with granting our wishes, and realising our aspirations for the coming yearMāori, star of hope. I’m the youngest whetū (star) in the Matariki cluster, but I have a big job. I take care of all your hopes and wishes. Watch for me when Matariki rises. If I’m bright, your wishes will come true.