What is Matariki?
Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter and for many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year.
Matariki literally means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki). According to myth, when Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, were separated by their children, the god of the winds, Tāwhirimātea, became so angry that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens.
Traditionally, it was a time for remembering the dead, and celebrating new life. In the 21st century, observing Matariki has become popular again. Kites, hot-air balloons and fireworks help mark the occasion. In the early 2000s Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission), the Ministry of Education and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, became involved in the revival of Matariki celebrations.
When is Matariki?
Different tribes celebrated Matariki at different times. To some tribes the new year in mid-winter was signalled by the dawn rising of Matariki (the Pleiades), while to others it was the rising of Puanga (Rigel in Orion).
For many iwi the appearance of Puanga (Rigel in Orion) in the night sky signalled the start of winter. Puanga was said to be one of the parents of the climbing plant puawānanga.
Matariki commenced on 25 June in 2017. At this stage, the 2018 date for Matariki has not yet been confirmed.
Image sourced from Dayne Laird's twitter feed, a Matariki enthusiast based in Auckland.
How to find Matariki (the Pleiades)
You can check out ‘A beginner’s guide to finding Matariki’ on Te Ara's blog.
YouTube also features video clips about Matariki.
The Ministry does not have any printed Matariki resources. However you can download the following Ministry desktop wallpaper from our website.
Another free download includes three Matariki colouring book pages for tamariki to print and colour from Auahi Kore's website.
Each year Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti produces a maramataka (calendar) that covers the period 1 July to 30 June and includes information for fishing and planting by the moon. The new maramataka will be available for purchase from July at Kāpiti Coast District Council Service Centres for $10 each. More details about the 2017 resource is here.
Where to find Matariki events
Updated on 18th October 2017