Here in Aotearoa (NZ) Matariki is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the Māori Maramataka (calendar). The Māori New Year is a time for renewing and recharging. Each iwi (tribe) has their own traditional practice and customs for Matariki, much of which have been overlaid by the rhythms of the Gregorian calendar. The interpretations of European historians and writers have also influenced mainstream ideas of Matariki. Traditionally Māori follow a lunar calendar. They measured/predicted time/events/agriculture planting and harvesting/fishing/birding the weather and navigation by Tama-nui-te-rā (the sun) Marama (the moon) and ngā whetū (the stars). In some iwi traditions there are seven whetū and in others nine are spoken of. In pre-colonial times the reading of the stars was a specialised mahi and took many years of intense study in the whare wananga (higher schools of old). Early European astronomers were intrigued that Māori could make out all the stars of the cluster of Matariki with the naked eye. It wasn’t until years later the with the help of telescopes that these “new” stars were seen by Europeans.
Matariki – the chief amongst the cluster, Matariki represents hope for the year ahead, reflection of the year that has passed, and a connection to nature. Matariki brings people together.
Tupuānuku – is associated with all types of food harvested from the soil of Papatūānuku, Mother Earth.
Tupuārangi – is associated with all types of food that grow up in the trees like fruits, berries, and birds.
Waitī – is connected with all fresh bodies of water and the types of food that we are able to find within it.
Waitā – is connected with salt water and all of the types of food we find at sea.
Waipuna-ā-rangi – reflects the types of precipitation like rain, sleet and snow .
Ururangi – reflects the various types of winds connected with Tāwhirimātea.
Hiwa-i-te-rangi – is a star connected with the happenings of man, our dreams, wishes and aspirations.
Pōhutukawa – is connected with those who have passed on.