2022 is the first time that Matariki has been recognised as a public holiday in New Zealand, so it's expected to be bigger and 'brighter' than ever this year.
Matariki is much more than a star cluster that appears mid-winter. It marks the end of a lunar year and the beginning of the new year and what this new year might bring. Tohunga used Matariki as a way to foresee how abundant the upcoming year's harvest might be. Bright, clear stars promised a warm and successful season while hazy stars warned of unforgiving weather and poor crops.
Traditionally, festivities to celebrate Matariki followed the harvesting of crops. When the food store houses were full, families would gather together. Festivities included the lighting of ritual fires, offerings, farewells to those passed, and a celebration of life and ancestry.
Matariki also signifies a marker of transition in which families mourn and honour those who have passed now shinning down as stars themselves. Across New Zealand, people come together to remember their ancestors, share food, sing, tell stories and play music.
Matariki is a cluster made up of approximately 500 stars, only seven or nine being visible without a telescope. It is also one of the closest star clusters to Earth.
Matariki is the star that signifies reflection, hope, our connection to the environment, and the gathering of people. Matariki is also connected to the health and wellbeing of people.
Waitī is associated with all freshwater bodies and the food sources that are sustained by those waters.
Waitā is associated with the ocean and food sources within it.
Waipuna-ā-rangi is associated with the rain.
*Tupuānuku *is the star associated with everything that grows within the soil to be harvested or gathered for food.
Tupuārangi is associated with everything that grows up in the trees: fruits, berries, and birds.
Ururangi is the star associated with the winds.
Pōhutukawa is the star associated with those that have passed on.
Hiwa-i-te-rangi is the star associated with granting our wishes, and realising our aspirations for the coming year.
How to learn more?
If you're as inspired and interested in learning more about Matariki, its origins and it's importance to New Zealand culture head into Whitcoulls and try picking up one of these great reads.
<Source: Te Papa Tongarewa. (n.d.). The legend of Matariki and the six sisters. https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/discover-collections/read-watch-play/maori/matariki-maori-new-year/legend-matariki-and-six-sisters>
<Source: Te Papa Tongarewa. (n.d.). The Matariki star cluster – are there seven or nine stars?. https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/discover-collections/read-watch-play/maori/matariki-maori-new-year/matariki-star-cluster-are-there>