He Kōrero mō Matariki / About Matariki

Matariki Night Sky Carol Comer Resize

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. 

For Māori, astronomy was interwoven into all facets of life. Experts would observe the night sky, charting star and planet movements, the relationship of the stars and planets to the moon and sun, while also noting what was happening on the whenua (land) and in the moana (ocean), lakes and awa (rivers). All these celestial star beings were attributed qualities and named accordingly, and their stories were woven into the history of the people.  

Historically, new year celebrations provided the opportunity for whānau to come together to acknowledge the year gone by, prepare and plan for the year ahead; to celebrate with kai, kōrero, ceremony and entertainment. 

For a time, these celebrations were only acknowledged and celebrated by iwi, but at the beginning of the 21st century a cultural renaissance occurred, making knowledge of this special time of the year an important part of New Zealand’s history. 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 through traditions that continue each year, with the support of kaupapa like Matariki Festival.

If you would like to learn more about Matariki you can find a number of free resources available through our mātauranga partner, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. Check out their website here.