Matariki – Maori New Year

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Matariki, the Maori New Year, is rich with tradition. Discover the importance of Matariki, and explore ways that you can celebrate the Maori New Year with your family.

What is Matariki?

Matariki is the Maori name for a group of seven stars known as the Pleiades star cluster. Some people think of Matariki as a mother star with six daughters, and it is often referred to as the Seven Sisters.

Matariki appears in the eastern sky sometime around the shortest day of the year, and is thought to determine how successful the harvest crop will be in the coming season. The brighter the stars, the more productive the crop will be.

What does Matariki mean?

Matariki has two meanings, both of which refer to the cluster of stars. Mata Riki means Tiny Eyes, and Mata Ariki means Eyes of God.

When is Matariki celebrated?

Matariki begins to rise in the last few days of May, and this symbolises the coming of the Maori New Year. Some iwi (tribes) start celebrations when Matariki is first seen, however it is the first new moon after Matariki that officially signals the Maori New Year. Some people celebrate the New Year on the day the new moon rises, and others celebrate on the day after the new moon. Celebrations can last up to 3 days.

The Matariki new moon happens sometime in June.

Upcoming dates:

2013- 10 June

2014- 28 June

Why is Matariki important?

In years gone by, Matariki was thought to determine your crop for the coming season, and therefore it was important to recognise the part it played in nature’s cycle. The disappearance of Matariki in Autumn, signaled the time to gather and preserve crops, and so was an important marker in the harvest calender.

Nowadays, Matariki is seen as an important time to celebrate the earth, and show respect for the land on which we live.

How is Matariki celebrated?

Traditionally Matariki was celebrated by gathering with whanau (family) and reflecting on the past. The festival’s connection to the stars provided an opportunity for families to remember their whakapapa (genealogy) and those ancestors who had passed away to the heavens. Offerings were made to land-based gods who would help provide good crops, and new trees were planted to signal new beginnings.

Many of these traditional celebrations are still practiced today, however there are many others ways that Matariki is celebrated also. Most celebrations focus around music, song, dance, food and family, and celebrations can last up to 3 days.

How do communities recognise Matariki?

Matariki is a good opportunity for Maori to share their stories and culture with the wider community, and many events and activities are planned throughout the country to share and celebrate Matariki. Some common events and activities include:

  • Concerts and cultural performances
  • Art exhibitions
  • Art and Craft Workshops
  • The sharing of myths and legends
  • Astronomy Workshops
  • Hangi and Feasts
  • Dawn Ceremonies
  • Family Days
  • Tree Planting in Conservation Areas
  • Whakapapa (Genealogy) Workshops
  • Cooking Demonstrations

How can you celebrate Matariki with your family?

There are lots of ways you can celebrate Matariki with your family, and in doing so, start your own family traditions. Some ideas to get you started include:

A Family Feast

Make Matariki a time when the whole family gets together to feast and give thanks. It may be a nice opportunity to explore traditional Maori food like hangi and rewena (Maori bread).

A New Harvest

Use Matariki as a time to clear the winter vegetables, and prepare your vegetable garden for the new planting. It could become a family tradition to do the gardening altogether ‚Äď at least for one day of the year.

Tree Planting

Contact your local Department of Conservation to find out if there are any regeneration projects happening in your area. Organise to plant a tree on Matariki, or better still, get together with a group of friends and plant several.

Sleep Under the Stars

Spend a night sleeping under the stars (or under a tent!), and tell your own family stories. You may want to talk about family memories, or create goals for the coming lunar year.

New Years Resolutions

Most of us create New Years Resolutions in January, but by the time June rolls around they are long forgotten. Why not use Matariki as a time to renew your resolutions.

Attend a Matariki Event

Matariki events are held right throughout the country, and new comers are usually welcomed as people are eager to share their culture. To find out what Matariki events are happening in your area, contact your local Marae or Maori Trust.

Happy New Year.

Related Websites

www.matarikievents.co.nz

Matariki website by New Zealand Maori Tourism Council which includes a comprehensive list of Matariki events within every region around New Zealand.

www.nzonscreen.com/collection/the-matariki-collection

A collection of New Zealand television content focused around Matariki.

Tagged: ,
The Kiwi Families Team

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

  • Cmbubblez1

    when i matariki it dosent say

    • http://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz Rochelle Gribble

      Hi there,

      In 2012, it will be the 21st of June.

      Thanks,

      Rochelle

    • http://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz/ Rochelle Gribble

      Hi there, 

      In 2012, it’s June 21st.¬†
      Thanks, 

      Rochelle

      • Corey

        epicly AWSOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Noor4eva

    hi i just want to find out why does nz celebrate matariki?

    • Noor Aljbouri!

      i dont know?

    • http://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz/ Rochelle Gribble

      Hi Noor4eva

      We don’t ‘officially’ celebrate Matariki in NZ – in that it’s not a public holiday or anything like that… it’s more like a celebration like Mother’s Day where it has grown in popularity over the years. I think one of the reasons that some people celebrate Matariki is that it’s nice to have a ‘local’ festival- something that is unique to New Zealand and at the Maori culture. Cultures all over the world celebrate a ‘New Year’ of some kind and I guess Matariki is our own version.¬†

      Thanks, 

      Rochelle

      • Guest

        I find it a little poignant that it is subtly recognised as a celebration however if you look around during the Chinese new year there appear to be many whom recognise that… Just saying

        • http://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz/ Rochelle Gribble

          Hi Guest, 

          I think recognition of Matariki has increased heaps in the last few years… there are many celebrations in my local community this year…¬†

          Thanks! 

          Rochelle

      • Honeygurl

        Actually we celebrate because Matariki was a real big help too Us Maori back in the days it helped them too navigate Land too Land(:
        Geet it right Rochelle

    • Tirarau

      coz were cool like that

      • Tirarau

        yeeh buddy

    • Tirarau

      mohio koe ki te korero koe i te reo maori ne e tama

      • tane

        ae

    • Honeygurl

      Because of Matariki Back in the Days Maori Were able to navigate
      Is that good enough

  • Noor4eva

    like mine and i will like yours!

  • Darcyrosewalker

    interesting

  • Yeahbuddy

    ILOVEE this website because it had a lot of interesting information lolz hahhaha 

  • Yeahbuddy

    i <3 dis wbste coz it hd alt of usefl info!

  • YEAHBUDDY

    NOHT EVEN ;P 

  • Lowla

    Hello!! Why is Matariki important?

    • http://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz/ Rochelle Gribble

      It’s important because it marked the beginning of the New Year for Maori.¬†

      Hope that helps :) 

  • Secretb

    good article

    • http://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz/ Rochelle Gribble

      Thanks! 

    • Rochelle

      Thanks!

  • Maxmanning

    matariki is cool

  • guy

    how do we have matariki?

    • http://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz/ Rochelle Gribble

      Hi Guy,

      I’m not sure what you mean?

      Thanks,

      Rochelle

  • sarah

    hi i was wondering what are some of the explanations given for the origins of the cluster of stars associated with the Maori New Year?

    • http://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz/ Rochelle Gribble

      Hi Sarah,

      There’s a whole heap of information on the Pleiades constellation here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleiades which might help.

      Good luck!

      Rochelle

  • ripstar

    Kia Ora

    The relevance of Matariki is celebrated by us who understand the significance surrounding it.
    Matariki for my family was the time when the crops were harvested and certain jobs were fulfilled. Ensuring you had ample supply of food for the winter etc would mean a general timing of planting/food gathering, Maori people were a commuinty who worked together to make this happen, as you would be fully aware in the times of our ancestors they did not have the luxury of picking up the phone to call whanau when it was time to harvest…. therefore we use the moon, stars, sun to dictate when it was suitable to plant and gather etc.
    Matariki itself is when the “seven sisters” enters the sky, so when Maori see it, they start harvesting, and because we harvest together It means we are working together and what better way to end a hard days work than to eat together and celebrate as one.

    Kia Ora

    • http://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz/ Rochelle Gribble

      Kiaora Ripstar,

      Thanks heaps for that great explanation!

      Naku noa,

      Rochelle

  • Honeygurl

    Ka Pai A greaat Read(:

  • Dancer4EVEA

    Hey do you know when and where matariki was first celebrated bye.

  • charlotte

    it is really interesting my class is going to like this :) if they don,t :(

  • charlotte

    we celebrate matariki for our culture

  • charlotte

    1 love matariki

  • charlotte

    i love matariki :)

  • fletcher

    matariki is italian you know

  • jamie lee

    hey gurlfriend i was wondering when we first discovered matariki thanks todles xx :))))))

  • dylan

    thank you for helping me doing my homework

  • fifita

    hi umm what do the 7 seven stars represent

  • Simone Ellison-Henderson

    I just want to know about modern Matariki for school

  • JUSTIS

    AWESOME :)

  • taannz

    the introduction of matariki is govenment generated as a front to being culturally sensitive to the ways of te maori’… each iwi have their own name for their planting stars and matariki is not one we associate with back home in tuhoe land – we have te whetu whanau’ northland have parearau and so on and so forth – planting time when matariki appears happens in the northern hemisphere we are at the bottom of the earth therefore our whenua is noa or at rest during the winter months – anyway im not sure why the drive to celebrate when most maori land has been eaten up by government themselves and have you seen the price of land today? so with one hand we promote planting while the other hand has been chopped off’

  • Carolinebubble

    How did they know matariki was happening?

  • Carolinebubble

    Please help answer my question. Anyone……………..

  • Guest

    What Dose Matariki Like To Where on that day.

  • Guest

    Hello Tupu

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