This month we celebrate Matariki which begins from dawn 21 June, when the cluster of stars, also known as "The Seven Sisters" become visible again in the night sky of Aotearoa, signaling the beginning of the Māori New Year.
Conservation and respect for the environment are strong themes for the celebration of Matariki. Giving thanks for the land and waters that have provided kai is important, and we are reminded also to respect and protect nature so that future generations may enjoy the same quality of life.
Matariki is also about remembering the past, celebrating the present and preparing for the year ahead. At this time where we can come together and look at ways in which we can make a difference to our land, our country and our planet.
"Matariki is a time for reflection and celebration. As a business one of our values is kaitiakitanga. We are taking the opportunity to educate our staff on what Matariki is about as well as educating our staff on the importance of Te Ao Māori."
The Meaning of Matariki
Matariki has two meanings, both of which refer to a cluster of stars. Mata Riki means tiny eyes and Mata Ariki means Eyes of God. Traditionally Māori were keen observers of the night sky, determining from the stars the time and seasons, and using them to navigate the ocean.
Lookouts would watch for the rise of Matariki just before dawn. When sighted, preparations began for the period of celebration to coincide with the next new moon, however, the exact timing varied from tribe to tribe. For Māori this signified remembrance, fertility and celebration. There are different kōrero (talk/stories) for different tribes about Matariki. One of the many legends is that when Papatūānuku (mother earth) and Ranginui (sky father) were separated by Tāne Mahuta (God of the forest and son of Papatūānuku) Tāwhirimātea was so angry he ripped out his eyes and threw them into the heavens which formed the cluster of stars that we today call Matariki.
Whānau would gather up young shoots of the kūmara and other plants which would be burnt and offered to Matariki. Māori believed Matariki to be a star that predicted the upcoming season.
If during its pre-dawn rise, the stars in the cluster are clear and bright, the saying "he kaihaukai te tau" would be applied meaning it would be a warm and bountiful season. If Matariki appeared hazy or shimmering, people remarked “he tau tūpuhi” meaning a cold difficult season was to be expected. Matariki is a time to prepare the whenua in anticipation of Spring and to plant certain vegetables to appease the land-based gods Rongo, Uenuku and Whiro.
Let's hope that this year's Matariki gives us clear, bright stars for the upcoming year ahead.
This Matariki we are coming together as a team to start our Te Reo journey. Each team member has been invited to workshops centered around pronunciation, understanding of customs and traditions and encouraging Te Reo to be integrated into everyday conversation.
Mānawatia a Matariki!
With your family and friends > https://heartofthecity.co.nz/auckland-events/matariki/matariki-waterfront
Kids Storytime > https://kidsvids.co.nz/matariki-the-seven-sisters/