Welcome to Matariki
For Māori ancestors, astronomy was interwoven into all facets of life. Experts would observe the sky, making notes on star and planet movements, the relationship of those stars and planets to the moon and sun, while noting what was happening around them on land and in the oceans, lakes and rivers. All these celestial objects were given Māori names and their stories were woven into the history of the people.
One of these star groups is Matariki, the Māori name given to Pleiades, an internationally recognised star cluster that can be seen all over the world. The rise of Matariki in the winter skies above Aotearoa is an important time in the Māori calendar, as it signifies the start of the Māori New Year.
Historically, new year celebrations provided the opportunity for communities to come together to acknowledge the year gone by and make plans for the year ahead; to celebrate with kai, kōrero, rituals and entertainment.
For a time, these celebrations dwindled in popularity, but at the beginning of the 21st century a cultural renaissance occurred, making this special time of the year an important part of the Māori calendar. Today, everyone in Aotearoa has the opportunity to celebrate the unique places we live in, show respect for the land we live on and to share and grow together, with traditions continuing in Matariki Festival celebrations each year.