Matariki – week three: favourite local Māori food

This blog is brought to you by Dora Langsbury, Māori Learning Advisor. Content for this blog was provided by the CCC library website.

Kai (food) was an important part of Māori events such as Matariki festivals or tangi (funerals). Different rohe (regions) had their speciality foods. These were always served at such special occasions to show manaakitanga (hospitality) to their guests and to uphold the mana (status) of the mana whenua (hosts). Most hapū (subtribe) in the Ngai Tahu rohe have their marae near the coastline and kai moana (sea food) is usually considered their speciality food. There are six Ngāi Tahu hapu marae nearby to Christchurch, Rapaki, Onuku, Wairewa, Koukourarata, Taumutu and Ngā Tuahuriri.

Below is a list of their specialities:

  • paki – pioke (lemon fish)
  • Ōnuku – hoka (red cod)
  • Wairewa – tuna & hāpuka (eel & grouper)
  • Koukourārata – kuku (mussels)
  • Taumutu – tuna & pātaki (eel & flounder)
  • Ngā Tūāhuriri – kōura & tuatua (mollusc)







If you are interested in some of the food gathering practices (mahinga kai) of Ngāi Tahu, then this link will take you to 12 ten-minute videos which describe these processes which have been handed down through the generations.

Kupu o te rā o Ara whare pukapuka

  • pioke (lemon fish) 
  • hoka (red cod) 
  • kuku (mussels) 
  • tuna (eel) 
  • kōura (crayfish) 

Waiata mō te kai moana

Kina, kina (sea eggs)

Wheke, wheke (octopus)

Ika, ika (scaly fish)

Tuna, tuna (slimy eel)

Pipi, pipi (sandy white shell fish)

Paua, paua (abalone)

Kai moana e (they are all food from the sea)

Matariki – week two

This blog is brought to you by Dora Langsbury, Māori Learning Advisor. Content for this blog was provided by Te Ara The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand website and The Spin Off website.

Traditional Māori used the stars (whetū) to determine time and seasons. The rise of Matariki would signify remembrance, fertility and celebration. The portents of the star cluster, when it rose, determined when the crops for the coming season would be planted. If the stars were bright planting would begin in September. Hazy and closely bunched stars signified a cold winter and planting would be delayed until October. Matariki was a time of celebration as the star cluster rises at the end of the harvest (hauhake). People sung, danced and feasted (hākari) to acknowledge the abundance of food (kai) stored from the previous year and acknowledge the beginning of a new year.

Maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar, is like the moon (marama) planting calendars of other indigenous cultures. Māori and Pacific people are reviving and reconnecting with maramataka to restore systems and knowledge of planting, gathering and harvesting, both on land and in the waters and air. This calendar helps to identify the best days for planting, fishing and harvesting, as well as help to predict the year ahead. The Allright campaign have produced Te Rātaka o te Maramataka that you can download from their website to start your lunar.












Kupu o te rā o Ara whare pukapuka

  • Whetū – stars
  • Marama – moon
  • Maramataka – Māori lunar calendar
  • Kai – food
  • Hauhake – harvest
  • Hakari – celebration meal

Karakia mō te kai

Tēnei te whakamoemiti               We give thanks

Mō ngā ringawera                         to the hands

i whakaritea i ēnei kai                   who prepared this food

mai i te rangi                                   from the sky

mai i te whenua                             from the land

mai i te taiao                                   from the environment

Mauri ora!                                       Good health!

Matariki 2019

Connect – Reflect – Celebrate – Plan – Act

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…”

[From Ara Institute of Canterbury. 2018. Reflecting, reconnecting and stargazing: Matariki makes its mark at Ara ]

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]




Matariki – Celebrate the Māori New Year at Ara – 11-15 June 2018

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. Eventhough Matariki is close to Earth it is still 440 light years away. According to Te Papa’s website, this means that, if you could drive a car at a speed of 100 kilometres an hour, you would arrive at Matariki in 4.8 billion years!

Many iwi talk about the seven Matariki stars being Matariki, the mother and her six daughters, Tupu-a-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi, Waipunarangi, Waitī, Waitā and Ururangi. Te Papa has information on one of the most popular legends of Matariki and the six sisters.

You can see Matariki from early June before sunrise. Why not come along to the Dawn rising – Celestial observation on Friday 15 June and join other Ara students and staff on top of the Port Hills to see Matariki rising on the eastern horizon.

In the Library on Wednesday 13 June look out for our Matariki star making   lunchtime activities.

See Ara’s schedule of events for more Matariki magic on our campuses. For events in the wider community see Christchurch City Libraries Matariki blogpost.

Resources on Matariki in our library include:

Hakaraia, L. (2006). Celebrating Matariki . Auckland [N.Z.]: Reed.

Hakaraia, L. (2004). Matariki : the Māori New Year . Auckland [N.Z.]: Reed Pub.

Hakaraia, L. (2008). Te kāhui o Matariki : contemporary Māori art of Matariki. North Shore, N.Z.: Raupo.

Matamua, R. (2017). Matariki : the star of the year. Wellington: Huia.

Rolleston-Cummins, T. (2008). The seven stars of Matariki. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia.


So you broke your New Year’s resolution


Image from Te Ara (2016) Story Matariki

No problem. You have another chance.  Matariki is a great time to gain new skills and set yourself some new goals.

The Māori New Year is marked by the rise of Matariki (Pleiades) and the sighting of the next new moon. The pre-dawn rise of Matariki can be seen at the end of May every year and the New Year is marked at the sighting of the next new moon which occurs during early June.

Matariki can be translated in two ways – Mata Riki (Tiny Eyes) and Mata Ariki (Eyes of God). Some say Matariki is a mother surrounded by her six daughters while others suggest Matariki is a male star.

Manu tukutuku (Māori kite) flying traditions have a highly symbolic connection to Matariki. They are seen as the connection between the heavens and earth. Acknowledge the year gone by, and turn to the future and celebrate new beginnings.

Dream big, set goals and take action!

Written by Emma Royal, Ara Learning Advisor



Matariki – Māori New Year – Pipiri 10 June


(Photo by Filip Lolic, obtained from Wikimedia Commons)

In the traditional Māori maramataka, or calendar, the new year begins with the first new moon at the end of May or beginning of June.  This is when the star cluster known as Matariki (The Pleiades) reappears on the eastern horizon.

Read more about the traditions surrounding Matariki on Te Ara : Encyclopedia of New Zealand and in  Te Ao Hou (The new world) , a magazine published by the Maori Affairs Department between 1952 and 1976.


Click on Login in to eTV , select Christchurch Polytechnic and use your CPIT login and PIN number to watch this Waka Huia video called Te maramataka Māori on our eTV platform and follow Wiremu Tawhai and his family as they prepare to harvest traditional kumara, riwai and other Maori kai that were planted in accordance with the Maramataka Māori. Wiremu also explains the importance of Matariki while teaching practical ways to sustain our natural resources for future generations.

Books in our Māori collection

Hakaraia, L. & Urlich, C.W. (ed.s) (2008), Te Kāhui o Matariki : Contemporary art of    Matariki – N7406.7HAK

Hakaraia, L. (2004). Matariki : the Māori new year – DU423.A85HAK

Hakaraia, L. (2006). Celebrating Matariki – DU423.A85HAK

CD in our Māori Collection

Tikao, A (2007) Tuia – the sixth track on this album by Christchurch singer / song writer Ariana Tikao is called Matariki.  You can also listen to Matariki online at

Other links

Hansard report on the parliamentary debate around having a public holiday celebrating Te Rā o Matariki.

Matariki at Christchurch City Libraries