Matariki is a traditional time for many iwi (Māori tribes) to celebrate the beginning of each new year. The Matariki star cluster is more commonly known throughout the world as Pleiades or Messier 45 (M45). In Hawaii, it is known as Makali’i and in Japan it is called Subaru.
Reimana Tutengaehe, a tutor in Te Puna Wānaka at Ara, shares that “Matariki is about a lifecycle really. Traditionally speaking when Matariki first begins we farewell the dead, and then we look up to each star in the constellation to acknowledge how they correspond to our natural environment. So traditionally, Maori would use the stars to determine if it was going to be a good year for fishing, or for crops and harvest…”
You can visit our Te Ao Māori Subject Guide for more resources on Matariki.
Significant dates of Matariki in 2019
- 27th May – Matariki sets
- 25th-28th June – Matariki rises
- 25th June – 3rd July – The period over which the stars of Matariki are observed
- 24th June – 5th July – The period when Ara will celebrate Matariki
The nine stars of Matariki
Māori observed the nine visible stars of Matariki during the long dark nights of winter looking for signs of the coming season.
At the same time, Māori personified the nine stars of Matariki to provide us with a framework for thinking about the world around us and what we would do over the coming year.
Who are the stars and how do they help us?
MATARIKI – the personification of Mother & Nurturer
Matariki brings people together, connecting them with each other and their world.
TUPU-Ā-NUKU – the personification of Edible Plants
Healthy plants need healthy soils. Can you compost food scraps at home? What about a worm farm?
TUPU-Ā-RANGI – the personification of Forests
Pests and predators destroy our forests. Did you know feral cats are a major threat to native birds, insects and trees?
WAI-PUNA-Ā-RANGI – the personification of Sky Waters
Have you noticed the big changes in climate? Does it rain more or less now than when you were young? How long before the sea-level will reach your home?
WAI-TĪ – the personification of Freshwater
Why are other countries bottling our water? What’s wrong with theirs? Is our water actually that clean?
WAI-TĀ – the personification of Oceans
Did you know that fish think plastic is food, then eat it, then die? Can you commit to reduce or stop using plastic? What other options already exist?
URURANGI – the personification of Winds
Did you know windmills were used in China over 4000 years ago? We need more non-polluting and renewable sources of energy like wind.
PŌHUTUKAWA – the personification of those passed on.
Have you lost anyone this past year? What influence did they have on your life? How can you keep their legacy alive?
HIWA-I-TE-RANGI – the personification of Dreams & Aspirations
What do you want to achieve over the next year? Plan now how you will make that happen.
Matariki at Ara
There will be lots happening at Ara to reflect and connect around Matariki. Watch your My Ara app to see what’s on offer and look out for the Matariki Star Making activity in the Library. You can also visit our Matariki page in Te Ao Māori Subject Guide for more resources on Matariki.
[Image owned by Ara Institute of Canterbury]