Matariki is a time to gather with whānau and friends, to gaze at the stars, to reflect, hope and plan - and to celebrate. Here are nine ways you can embrace the kaupapa of the Māori New Year in Tāmaki Makaurau – one for each star in the cluster.
In te ao Māori, Matariki is about the reappearance of the constellation to the sky, honouring loved ones who have died in the preceeding year, and blessing the year ahead. Umu Kohukohu Whetū will be held at Ōrākei Marae on Takaparawhau / Bastion Point as Matariki reappears in the morning sky on 21 June. At home, you might like to light a candle to remember loved ones or try to do your own Umu Kohukohu Whetū. Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei have produced a booklet as a DIY guide.
Matariki is a time for coming together. Over the weeks of Matariki Festival, events in each corner of the region will unite Aucklanders in celebration. Check matarikifestival.org.nz for events in your community.
On a clear night, head to your nearest maunga or north-east facing beach before dawn – the best time to spot the cluster - check out the 5 places we recommend here. Or take the tamariki to the Stardome at Maungakiekie in the evenings. Matariki Lights at Stardome is on until 25 June featuring an installation of moving pillars of light with the beautiful sounds of taonga pūoro. Or head to the Matariki on the Move shows in later weeks and take a virtual journey to the stars with live music performed by contemporary Māori musicians.
Several Matariki stars are associated with food, and it’s an excellent time to invite whānau and friends over for a Matariki midwinter hākari (feast) – perhaps a pork roast, served with rewena bread and hearty traditional kaiwhenua such as kūmara, taewa (Māori potatoes), taro, uwhi (yam) and pūhā, and kaimoana starters. After dinner, have a crack at mū tōrere, a Māori board game you can create yourself.
A focus of Matariki is acknowledging nature’s gifts and planning for future harvests. Many community planting days are planned around Tāmaki Makaurau to coincide with Matariki. Or nurture your own garden and prepare it for the journey through to spring.
6. Share stories
Whether through kōrero, waiata, dance or art, Matariki is a time to share our stories and those of Aotearoa and our tīpuna. Tell your stories to your whānau, your workmates and your friends. Here are some story thought-starters aligned with the kaupapa of Matariki: What made you happy this year and what have you enjoyed? What didn’t work out, and what won’t you miss about the year that’s gone? And in the spirit of looking to the future, what stories do you want to be telling this time next year?
There’s so much more to Matariki than the appearance of the famous cluster in the sky, and the traditions that accompany it. Matariki is an ideal time to enrich your knowledge of the stars - starting with their names and the stories behind them - and deepen your understanding of its significance within te ao Māori, along with te reo Māori, tikanga Māori and a whole lot else! The very act of learning ties into the kaupapa of enriching the self for the year ahead.
Celebrate traditional crafts of Aotearoa by trying weaving or making poi, kites or kete. Many community hubs are offering Māori arts and crafts workshops during the weeks of Matariki. Check out our guide to making traditional kites as well as an easy-to-follow guide to home-made poi.
9. Wish upon a whetū
Matariki encourages us to look to the future. At the Corban Estate Arts Centre in Henderson, manuhiri can write down a wish to Hiwa-i-te-Rangi, the youngest whetū (star) in the cluster and tie it to the whai (string game) installation by artist Penny Howard. At a dawn ceremony to mark the end of Matariki on July 16, the wishes will be burned and sent up to Hiwa to mark the new year.