Matariki is a time of celebration and remembrance that signals the beginning of the Māori New Year, Te Tau Hou Māori.
The word Matariki is the Māori name for a group of seven stars, also known as the Pleiades star cluster, which appears in the eastern sky sometime around the shortest day of the year. The season of Matariki begins with the rising of the Matariki star cluster. According to Maramataka (the Māori lunar calendar), the old year closes and the new year begins when the Matariki stars reappear.
Matariki is a time rich in traditions, many of which centre around whānau and community. For Māori, it represents a time to remember loved ones who have passed on in the previous year. It’s also a great time to gather together with the people you love, to reflect, to practise gratitude and to look towards the future. And in the middle of winter, what could be better than some cosy time spent with loved ones? In fact, Pipiri – the Māori name for the first lunar month of the Māori New Year, the equivalent of June/July when Matariki occurs – translates as “to draw close”.
So gather together whānau! Here are five ideas for simple Matariki traditions that you could introduce at your place: