Matariki: Māori New Year

What is Matariki?1
The 9 Stars of Matariki2
When is Matariki?3
How is Matariki celebrated?4
Why is Matariki celebrated?5
Robert Gendler, CC BY-SA 4.0 (4.0), via Wikimedia Commons.


What is Matariki?

The 9 Stars Of Matariki

MatarikiAlcyoneFemaleWell-being and health
Tupu-ā-rangiAtlasMaleFood that comes from above
Tupu-ā-nukuPleioneFemaleFood that grows in the soil
UrurangiMeropeMaleThe winds
Hiwa-i-te-rangiCelaenoFemaleGrowth and prosperity
WaitīMaiaFemaleFresh water
WaitāTaygetaMaleThe ocean
PōhutukawaSteropeFemaleThe deceased

When Is Matariki?

Māori New Year

Matariki is a celebration in Aotearoa (New Zealand) in July.

“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./Wikipedia

According to Māori tradition, Tāwhirimātea, the god of wind and weather, was enraged by the separation of heaven and earth – his parents, Ranginui and Papatūānuku.[1] Defeated in battle by his brother, Tāwhirimātea fled to the sky to live with Ranginui, but in his anger he first plucked out his eyes as a gesture of contempt towards his siblings, and flung them into the sky, where they remain, stuck to his father’s chest. In Māori tradition the unpredictability of the winds is blamed on Tāwhirimātea’s blindness.[2]: 20 

The word Matariki is the name of both the star cluster and one of the stars within it. Other terms for the cluster as a whole include Te Tautari-nui-o-Matariki (“Matariki fixed in the heavens”) and Te Huihui o Matariki (“the assembly of Matariki”).[2]: 21–22 

Matariki is sometimes incorrectly translated as mata riki (“little eyes”) a mistake originating in the work of Elsdon Best and continued by others.”[3][4][5] – Wikipedia.

How is Matariki celebrated?

The revival of the celebration of Matariki can be traced to the early 1990s, sparked by various Māori iwi and organisations such as the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.[2]: 87  Te Rangi Huata of Ngāti Kahungunu began in 2000 an annual Matariki celebration in Hastings, which attracted 500 people, which reached 15,000 in 2001.[1] In 2001, the Māori Language Commission began a move to “reclaim Matariki, or Aotearoa Pacific New Year, as an important focus for Māori language regeneration”. In 2016 Te Wānanga o Aotearoa promoted a new vision of Matariki in a month-long roadshow called “Te Iwa o Matariki” (iwa being Māori for “nine”), stressing the nine stars recognised by some iwi.[2]: 88 

Since then it has increasingly become common practice for people – Māori and non-Māori – and institutions such as schools, libraries, and city councils to celebrate Matariki in a range of ways.[14][15][16] These have included concerts, festivals of lights, the illumination of Auckland’s Sky Tower, and tree planting.[17] In 2017 Wellington City Council announced they would cancel the Sky Show fireworks held on Guy Fawkes Night for 22 years, and move them to a Matariki cultural festival from July 2018.[18]

The celebrations have taken place over the period of a week or month, anywhere from early June to late August, but increasingly coincide with the winter solstice or the traditional dates of Matariki. – Wikipedia.

Why is Matariki celebrated?

Matariki was an occasion to mourn the deceased, celebrate the present, and prepare the ground for the coming year.[10] The ceremony had three parts: viewing the stars, remembering the deceased, and making an offering of food to the stars.[10] This time of the year was also a good time to instruct young people in the lore of the land and the forest. In addition, certain birds and fish were associated with Matariki: to Tūhoe it marked the beginning of the season where kererū or native pigeon could be captured, cooked, and preserved in its own fat, and the rise of Matariki corresponded with the return of korokoro (lampreys) from the sea to spawn in rivers.[2]: 75  – Wikipedia.