Matariki has many different names around the world
In Aotearoa, New Zealand, Matariki marks the start of the Māori New Year. Signified by the Matariki cluster of stars reappearing in our night sky, this is the time to reflect on the past year, celebrate the present, and plan for the year ahead.
The star cluster is visible to the naked eye from most parts of our planet and has many different names. In English, it is called the Pleiades (its ancient Greek name) or the Seven Sisters. The Hawaiian name is Makali‘i, or ‘eyes of royalty, and in Japan, it is Subaru, meaning ‘gathered together’. South American indigenous communities also commemorate the new transition. Although the meaning of this day varies in different cultures, most see it as a period of renewal with rituals, music, ceremonies, and traditional gastronomy. People celebrate this fresh start with the hope that plantations will grow healthy and in abundance.
Many people in Aotearoa, New Zealand speak of the Matariki stars as a mother and her daughters. The mother is Matariki, Her daughters, Tupu-ā-nuku, associated with everything that grows within the soil to be harvested or gathered for food, Tupu-ā-rangi, associated with food and growth above the ground, Waipunarangi, associated with the rain, Waitī, associated with all fresh water bodies and the food sources that are sustained by those waters, Waitā, associated with the ocean, and food sources within it, Ururangi, associated with the winds, Pōhutukawa, associated with those that have passed on and Hiwa-i-te-rangi associated with granting our wishes, and realising our aspirations for the coming year.
Matariki is special here in Aotearoa, New Zealand. It is time to celebrate the end of the harvest with its bounty and the beginning of a New Year. It is also time to connect with whānau (family) and think about those who have passed on. Some people see it as a time to rest after kai (food) has been harvested, gathered, hunted and stored. Many also feel grateful to Tupuna, Ranginui, Papatuanuku and Atua Maori for providing goods and watching over them.
Matariki brings families and friends all around Aotearoa, New Zealand, together to spend quality time reflecting and celebrating.