Poster by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa

What is Matariki?

Matariki is a cluster of stars which are visible in our night sky at a certain time of the year. During June/July, Matariki will appear in the dawn sky starting the Māori New Year. 

Our tipuna would look to Matariki for help with their harvesting. When Matariki appears, our tipuna would look to the stars to predict the upcoming season. Clear and bright stars would promise a warm and plentiful winter while hazy, dim stars warned of a cold and bleak winter. 

Matariki is also a time to celebrate, honour those who have passed and to plan the future. It is also a time to spend with whanau and friends, sing waiata, eat plenty of kai and to play games.

How many stars does Matariki have?

According to leading Māori astronomer, Dr Rangi Matamua, who’s been researching Matariki for over 30 years, Matariki has 9 stars. The nine visible stars are Matariki, Tupuārangi, Waipuna-ā-Rangi, Waitī, Tupuānuku, Ururangi, Waitā, Pōhutukawa and Hiwa-i-te-Rangi. Each star holds a significance over our wellbeing and environment, as seen from the Māori view of the world.

The nine Matariki stars

Matariki

Matariki tāpuapua. Matariki nāna i ao ake te kai ki runga. Matariki hunga nui. Matariki ahunga nui. Te ope o te rua Matariki. Ka rewa a Matariki, ka maoka te hinu. Ka rewa a Matariki ka rere te kanakana.

Matariki is the star that signifies reflection, hope, our connection to the environment and the gathering of people. Matariki is also connected to the health and wellbeing of people.

Pōhutukawa

Tērā a Pōhutukawa ka mōiri ki runga he pae whakamahara mō aku tau kahurangi kua ngaro. Pīratarata mai rā koutou hei whetū i te pō, kōrekoreko mai rā hoki koutou i te rokiroki o ngā mahara mō ake tonu atu e.

Pōhutukawa is the star connected to those that have passed on.

Waitī

Waitī ki runga. Waitī ki raro, e rere nei ō wai hei manapou mō te whenua, hei oranga mō te tangata, hei kete kai mā te iwi. Kōriporipo tonu nei te ia o te awa, māreparepa ana ngā roto, kōrengarenga te puna a Tāne-te-waiora, he koira!

Waitī is connected with all fresh water bodies and the food sources that are sustained by those waters.

Waitā

Tērā te marae nui a Kiwa te kānapanapa nei i raro i a koe Waitā. Hīia mai rā ki runga te tini a Ikatere, rukuhia ki tai, kohia ki tātahi hei kai mā te tini o uta. Ka hiki mata te tapuwae a Tangaroa! Koia au nui, koia au roa, koia moana tuarangaranga koia moana i āio.

Waitā is associated with the ocean, and food sources within it.

Waipuna-ā-Rangi

Haramai te kōnehunehu! Haramai te hāuaua, Haramai te tarahi! Haramai te patapataiāwha! Takataka mai i te kōmanawa o te hei tapu, whāinumia e koe e Waipuna-ā-Rangi ka tupu te whenua, ka tupu te tangata.

Waipuna-ā-Rangi is connected with the rain.

Tupuānuku

Tupuānuku ka pihi nuku, ka pihi rangi, ka makuru haere ake nei. Kia haumako roa hoki te puke ki a Rongo, i āhua mai i tawhiti. Ngā hua o Nukutū ka aohia nuitia, arā rā ngakingaki, ara rā tinaku. Hauhaketia rā te tau, he tau humi e.

Tupuānuku is the star connected with everything that grows within the soil to be harvested or gathered for food.

Tupuārangi

Ngaruru te waokū, matomato te waokū, māpuapua te puhikaioreore e tau ai ngā tamariki a Tāne, tērā koia te pua nui. Tupuārangi māu e mōmona ngā manu, ka mōmona ngā hua, ka puta ka ora!

Tupuārangi is connected with everything that grows up in the trees: fruits, berries and birds.

Ururangi

E Ururangi whakamāriretia te atua matakerepō koi pūkerikeri mai koi haurokuroku mai, koi huripari mai. Engari kē kia hau kōanga, kia kōtengitengi kia purea ai au, kia whakahauoratia ai au.

Ururangi is the star connected with the winds.

Hiwa-i-te-Rangi

Hiwa nui, Hiwa roa, Hiwa pūkenga, Hiwa wānanga! Hiwaiterangi tēnei e korou o te manawa koronga, tēnei te āwhero o te manako nui. Horahia nuitia mai ngā hua tuawhiti mātinitini o te tau. Purutia e au kia mau te angitū, tāwhia te mooho kia ita! Ka puta ki te whai ao, ki te ao mārama.

Hiwaiterangi is the star connected with granting our wishes, and realising our aspirations for the coming year.

When to observe Matariki

The optimum time to observe the rising of Matariki is in the phase of the moon known as Tangaroa, the moon of plenty. The Tangaroa moon phase occurs in the three or four days leading to a new moon and will fall on different dates each year. This year is 13-16 July.

What can you do to celebrate Matariki?

Every year there are many celebrations around the rohe to acknowledge Matariki whether that be festivals, activities, viewings, feasts or at home. There are many ways to acknowledge and observe the rising of Matariki. Today there are many different ways you can acknowledge the Māori New Year and observe the rising of Matariki. Here are a list of suggestions,

  •  Take time to remember loved ones who are no longer with us
  •  Give thanks for the year that has passed
  •  Cook a meal and offer it to matariki
  •  Plan for the next year
  •  Spend time with family and friends
  •  Have a matariki feast
  •  Plan to grow a garden
  •  Write down your wishes for the year
  •  Celebrate

You and your whānau may want to do something special to celebrate Matariki like calling out the names of those who have passed, or even sitting around a fire sharing memories of the people who are no longer here. For you it might be a time of solitude and a chance to contemplate the world. It might be an opportunity to offer an acknowledgement to Matariki and the environment. Because Māori follow the Māori lunar calendar, not the European calendar, the dates for Matariki change every year.

All information is adapted from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa resources (https://www.twoa.ac.nz/hononga-stay-connected/te-iwa-o-matariki?sc_lang=en)