7 ways you can prepare for and celebrate Matariki

Matariki this year will occur between 13 and 18 July and the appearance of the cluster of stars signals the Māori New Year.

Matariki is a time to remember those who’ve passed and to celebrate new life, a time for reflection of the past year and a time to dream and plan for the year ahead. It’s a time to spend with whānau and friends – to enjoy kai (food), waiata (song), tākaro (games) and haka.

Our tūpuna (ancestors) would look to Matariki to guide their harvest time. When Matariki sets around May and disappears from our sky it signals a time to preserve crops for the winter season. When it rises and reappears in July, tohunga kōkōrangi (expert astronomers) would read the stars, informing the people of the year ahead. Each star in the Matariki cluster has a different meaning - clear and bright stars promised abundance while dull hazy stars may represent scarcity.

Image credit: thespinoff.co.nz

The 9 stars are:

Tupuānuku - represents food grown in the earth or below ground eg kūmara

Tupuārangi -represents food grown above ground eg fruit from trees

Ururangi - represents the wind

Waipunarangi - represents how much rain fall there will be in the coming winter.

Waitī - represents the life in the lakes and rivers eg eels and trout.

Waitā - represents the abundance of fish in the ocean

Pōhutakawa - is the star connected to death. Māori believe that when our people die, their spirit goes to the northernmost point in Aotearoa to Te Rerenga Wairua (the departing of spirits).  The spirit travels down the roots of the Pohutukawa tree and into the underworld. All souls that have made that journey in the last year are waiting for Matariki to take them up to the heavens where they become stars. You may hear people calling their loved ones names during Matariki, ushering them up to Heaven.

Hiwa-i-te-rangi -  is our star of hopes and dreams - the star you make a wish upon. 

Matariki - is the mother star - there to guide her children across the sky.

7 ways you can celebrate Matariki with your whanau.

1. Head outside with whānau and try to spot the Matariki stars. The best time to see it is just before sunrise from 13-18 July and can be seen in the North East.

2. Celebrate with friends and whānau by sharing kai - Māori believe that when Matariki gathers in the sky, it calls people to gather on earth. Consider cooking with Māori vegetables and acknowledge the value of healthy kai as a taonga for achieving wellbeing.  

3. Sing,dance and play games :)

4. Think new year's resolutions but in July - take time out to reflect on the past year and consider all that you want to let go of, everything that no longer serves you (this applies also for people in your life that need letting go of.) A friend of mine likes to write down things that she know longer wishes to carry (habits, people, limiting beliefs) and throws it into a fire - symbolising it being burnt away.

5. If you are going to do this, make sure you equally take time to make space for new things to come into your life, set intentions and manifest, manifest, manifest.

6. Go on a bush or beach walk and explore Papatuanuku. Matariki is a time to explore our natural world.

7. Take time to remember those that have passed.  Talk to tamariki about them, show pictures, share stories, laugh and cry.

    There are many other events happening around the country that you can find online.  If you are keen to learn more, a wonderful resource is the Facebook group Living by the Stars. 


    • Teresa

      Thanks for sharing this important time in the calendar!

    • Jess

      Thank you so much for posting this! I learned a lot and I’m a teacher so going to share this with my students and do an activity in class around Matariki :)

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