What is Matariki?
Matariki is the Maori name for the group of stars also known as
the Pleiades star cluster or The Seven Sisters; and what is referred to as
the traditional Maori New
When is the Maori New Year?
The Maori new year is marked by the rise of Matariki and the sighting of the
next new moon. The pre-dawn rise of Matariki can be seen in the last few days of May every year and the new year is marked at the sighting of the next
new moon which occurs during June. This next occurs on 5 June 2008.
What does Matariki mean?
Matariki has two meanings, both referring to a tiny constellation of stars; Mata
Riki (Tiny Eyes) and Mata Ariki (Eyes of God).
Why is Matariki important?
Traditionally, depending on the visibility of Matariki, the coming season's crop
was thought to be determined. The brighter the stars indicated the warmer the
season would be and thus a more productive crop. It was also seen as an
important time for family to gather and reflect on the past and the future.
Why do we celebrate Matariki
Today Matariki means celebrating the unique place in which we live and giving
respect to the land we live on.
How is Matariki celebrated?
Matariki is celebrated with education, remembrance and the planting of new trees
and crops signalling new beginnings. Matariki was the optimum time for new
harvests, and ceremonial offerings to the land-based gods Rongo, Uenuku and
Whiro to ensure good crops for the coming year. It was also seen as a
perfect time to learn about the land we live on and to remember whakapapa
(ancestry) who have passed from this world to the next and the legacy they left
How long do celebrations last?
Traditionally celebrations lasted up to 3 days after the new moon had risen
following Matariki becoming visible
Who celebrates Matariki?
Anyone who wishes to participate
Are all Iwi involved in the
All Iwi (Maori Tribes) celebrate Matariki, although they may celebrate at
different times. For some tribes celebrations are held when Matariki is first
seen in the dawn sky, for others it is celebrated after the full moon rises, and
for others the dawn of the next new moon.
Celebrations Around Matariki
There are many ways to celebrate Matariki, here are a few examples...
Matariki and Arts
The sky was used by Maori for many reasons throughout history. Reading from the
vast volumes of stars was a way of preserving history, knowledge, culture and
maintaining ancient practices. The time of Matariki was a celebration in all
customs and beliefs, so arts in its many forms were very important to this
period. With the coming together of family and friends it was a time to share
with each other skills, achievements and history through story telling, song and
dance, carving and weaving, ancient ceremonies and passing on of knowledge and
history. Matariki is a special time of year to celebrate being Maori, its
customs and art forms and to show how unique the Maori culture is.
Arts activities associated with
Special play performances
Exhibitions of Maori crafts
Classes showing how to weave,
Television shows on Matariki
Celestial Navigators / Astronomers
The night sky contains a massive number of stars which were used by Maori as a
way to calculate time and seasons, navigate oceans, preserve knowledge and
stories, maintain customary practices and inspire action and achievement.
Matariki is an especially important cluster of stars to Maori, it is a signal
for seasonal celebration and a key navigational beacon for ocean voyages.
The time of Matariki brings
together family to share and learn the stories and knowledge that the stars
hold. There are many legends that are associated with Matariki and not only
in New Zealand but the Pacific and worldwide.
Matariki is a time to understand
the history and the importance of the stars for Maori, not only in past but in
Celestial Navigators / Astronomers activities associated with Matariki...
Waka ceremonies at night
Astronomy information packs
Story telling nights based on
legends of stars
Dawn sighting event when
Seminars of sailing by the
Seminars on Matariki's
For Maori the land that they live on is one of the most
important aspects of life. Preserving their way of life depended on the
treatment of the land and all things living on it, this outlook was paramount to
and was reflected and filtered through to many other aspects of Maori culture.
The Matariki star constellation
was used to dictate how the coming year would be in regard to the size of the
harvest, so it was very important for Maori to prepare the land as best they
could in order to enable the coming year to be successful. It was a time for everyone to learn about the trees,
crops and environment that was around them. Therefore the land, its conservation
and care is at the forefront of the Matariki celebrations.
associated with Matariki...
Organize conservation days
Cleanups of beaches and local
Promotion of New Zealand bush
Teaching about native New
Zealand forests in schools
Public talks on conservation
Food and Hospitality
The Matariki star constellation marked a time for starting all things new, this
was a particularly important period for new crops to be planted and the
preserving of old crops to be finished. When Matariki was sighted ceremonial
offerings of food were planted for the gods Uenuku and Whiro to ensure a good
harvest for the coming year. Even the stars themselves were looked upon for
guidance as to how successful the coming season would be; the brighter the star
constellation the warmer the year was destined and the better the harvest was
thought to be.
The timing of Matariki fell
at the end of a harvest and food stores were full. Meat, fruits, herbs and
vegetables had been gathered and preserved and the migration of certain fish
ensured a great period of feasts. Matariki was seen as a time to share with each
other, for family and friends to come together and share in the gifts that the
land and sea had provided for them.
Food and Hospitality activities associated with Matariki...
Certain meals made of
traditional foods (month of Matariki)
Matariki dinner celebrating
Information added to menus
New Zealand beer/ wine and
food only at Matariki
Hangi nights during Matariki
Signs during Matariki at
supermarkets promoting healthy food
Matariki is a time of new beginnings, a time to pause and reflect on the year
that was and the year that will be. So naturally it is a time for people
to take a look at their lifestyles, their health and make some changes for the
For a long time Maori people have
been suffering in the state of their health. Diabetes, obesity, alcoholism and
smoking are all areas of concern and areas that need to be addressed.
Matariki provides a perfect time
for Maori people and people of New Zealand to take a look at the state of
health and lifestyle. With the help and information from the health
centers, hospitals and medical staff Matariki could be a time of healthy
beginnings and new awareness's.
Health activities associated
Health workers going to
Information at schools on
Family fun days
Brochures on healthy living at
Gym membership deals/subsidies
Traditional Maori medicinal
practices classes and promotions
Traditionally Matariki was seen as a time to prepare the land in which we live
on. As Matariki fell in the winter months when the land was at its most inactive
this was an ideal time to learn about the land and about the forest. Certain
vegetables were planted to appease land based gods Rongo, Uenuku and Whiro and
heading towards spring, plans for the planting of the spring garden were carried
For Maori the land was held
with the utmost respect, how the land was treated in turn dictated how they
would be treated living on and amongst it. Learning about the land and how to
treat it through care as well as techniques and strategies of planting ensured
the Maori culture would live on and survive for years to come.
associated with Matariki...
Planting of traditional
Ceremonies to appease
land gods around the sighting of Matariki
Promotions of native New
For children Matariki is an important time to learn about whakapapa (ancestry),
the land, the stars, and what it is to be Maori.
The Matariki stars were used
to navigate, to keep time, know what season they were in, and to learn about the
legends of the stars.
Learning about family and
whakapapa was also very important around the time of Matariki. It was time
to come together to exchange stories, learn about ancestors who have passed from
this world to the next, and hand down knowledge and practices to ensure the
Maori culture is preserved.
The land and the preserving of it
was a big part of Matariki, crops were being planted for the next season, and
learning about the land and forest was essential for everyone.
Matariki is a time when children
can learn about and celebrate the unique culture that they are a part of through
school, family and friends
Primary Schools activities associated with Matariki...
Matariki month/arts and crafts
Maori history/legends classes
Projects on star
Planting of vegetable garden
and New Zealand plants exercises
School play performances
Family days surrounding
Cooking classes for whole
School Hangi (Traditional
Maori cooking) to celebrate the new moon/new year
Competitiveness is a dominant factor in Maori culture, and the time of Matariki
Matariki signals a time of coming
together of family and friends, to share in food, festivities, and fun. Families
gathered to perform songs and hakas, weave, carve, prepare food delicacies, hunt
While all this is done for the
celebrations and entertainment, there is always an underlying sense of
competition, to be able to out sing and out perform peers, to catch the biggest
fish or prepare the tastiest meal. Matariki provides a time when we can
show off our talents and allows for recognition in achievement and success.
Sporting activities associated
High profile Maori sports
stars promoting Matariki
Family sporting days - mixture
of sports and traditional activities
Sponsored sports days to raise
money for local Maori clubs / Marae (Maori meeting place)
For more information about Matariki visit
Matariki Festival at Te
Proverbs relating to
Matariki at wickED Fun Learning Site for Kids
Maori names for stars and constellations
here for instructions on how to link your web site to out Matariki page
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