Matariki is the Māori name for the star cluster Pleiades which is visible at a specific time of the year, usually June/July. The rise of Matariki in the sky is best seen at dawn on 2-5 July in 2021.
Anika Moa's Matariki feast
We’ve been busy with our wāhine toa Anika Moa cooking up a delicious Matariki feast for you to whip up with your whānau!
What is Matariki?
The story of Matariki
The full name of Matariki is Ngā Mata o Ariki (Eyes of God) in reference to Tāwhirimatea and the creation of the world. Tāwhirimatea (the god of storms and wind) fought against his brother Tāne Mahuta (God of the forest) who was trying to seperate their parents Rangi and Papa (sky father and earth mother) at the beginning of time. Rangi and Papa were locked in a tight embrace meaning there was no light or life on earth. Tāne Mahuta won the battle to separate their parents and Tāwhirimatea in his pain and anger upon losing, crushed his eyes and flung them up to the galaxy, creating the star cluster Matariki. Now Tāwhitimatea the blind, unseeing god explores the land going in all directions (the wind).
What is the importance of Matariki in Māori culture
It’s a time to celebrate new life, to remember those who’ve passed, spend time with whānau and friends, and to plan for the future. Particularly of importance to our tūpuna (ancestors), was that they would look to Matariki for guidance with their harvesting as each star has a certain significance over our wellbeing and environment.
The 9 stars and their significance
The mother of eight stars, Matariki is the symbol of reflection, hope and our connection to our environment
Pōhutukawa – connects us to our ancestors and to those who have passed on.
Tupuānuku is connected to food that grows in the ground.
Tupuārangi is connected to food that comes from above, the skies and the trees.
Waitī is tied to food that is sourced from our freshwater bodies like lakes.
Waitā is tied to food that is found in the ocean – like seafood commonly known as kai moana.
Waipun-ā-rangi is connected to the rain that helps crops to flourish.
Ururangi means ‘winds of the sky’. This star determines the winds for the coming year.
Hiwaiterangi is the youngest of Matariki’s tamariki (children). She’s a wishing star and connects us to our hopes and aspirations for the year ahead
Fun facts• There is some confusion around whether there are 7 or 9 stars in the Matariki cluster. According to leading Māori astronomer, Dr Rangi Matamua, there are 9 visible stars.
• The greek equivalent Pleiades is known as the 7 sisters, but even in this cluster there are actually 9 stars (the 7 daughters of Atlas and Pleione)
• Many iwi view Matariki as the Mother and her children (all others stars except Pōhutukawa and Hiwa-i-te-rangi)
• Not all iwi celebrate Matariki at the same time and some Iwi are not able to see Matariki at all and instead celebrate the New Year with a star named Puanga – places like Taranaki, Whanganui and on the West Coast of the South Island.
• Māori didn’t use a gregorian solar calendar but followed a lunar calendar called the Maramataka where different activities took place during different phases of the moon. For example certain times of the month were better for planting and others for fishing or conducting rituals. Specifically, Eel fishing is never done during a full moon because the bright light would not allow the eel to hunt as its prey could see them.
• In 2020 the Matariki cluster signalled a long dry summer... which ended up being very true!