Questions and answers about Matariki

When should I celebrate Matariki?

Matariki is not one specific day it is a season heralded by the rise of the Matariki cluster in the eastern sky in winter.  The dates that iwi and hāpu use to mark the rise is dependent on where they are in the country and which particular stars in the cluster, they give honour to.

Te Wangana o Aotearoa has a great web site with Matariki resources including Matariki dates.

This year, Māori@Massey have decided to acknowledge the Māori New Year from 15 June to 26 July 2020.  

How should I celebrate Matariki?

There is no one way to celebrate Matariki, but events or activities that encourage the following are suitable:

  • Honouring those who have died in the past year.
  • Reflecting on the past and setting goals for the future.
  • Gathering with whānau and friends to share kai.
  • Events to share knowledge and learning or storytelling.
  • Giving of gifts especially handmade gifts.
  • Indoor activities including playing games, dancing and singing.
  • Engaging with the natural environment.

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, has excellent web resources including suggested Matariki activitites.

How many stars are in the Matariki cluster?

There are generally considered to be nine stars although this differs between iwi and hāpu. Each star is seen to hold significance over particular aspects of our lives or the environment.

  • Matariki – health and wellbeing.
  • Pōhutukawa – those who have died.
  • Tupuārangi – connected to everything in the trees – fruits and birds.
  • Tupuānuku – food grown from the soil.
  • Waipuna-ā-Rangi – rain.
  • Ururangi – the winds.
  • Waitī – fresh water and fresh water kai.
  • Waitā -  the ocean and kai moana.
  • Hiwa-i-te-Rangi – aspirations for the coming year.

How do I see Matariki?

In June/July – Matariki can be seen low on the eastern horizon at dawn. Here’s an explanation from Te Papa on how to spot it.

Should I celebrate Matariki if I’m not Māori?

Matariki is a specific celebration to Aotearoa New Zealand and honours our season of winter under our stars. It is an opportunity for all New Zealanders to honour our environment and to open ourselves to learning about the traditions of this country which go back hundreds of years beyond colonial settlement.

Is there a special Matariki greeting?

One way to say ‘happy Matariki’ in te reo Māori is -  Ngā mihi o Matariki, te tau hou Māori.


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