Māori New Year
What is Matariki?
Matariki is the Māori name given to a cluster of stars in the Taurus constellation. It’s common name in the Northern Hemisphere is Pleiades, and in Japan it is called Subaru.
Why is Matariki important in Aotearoa/New Zealand?
For many Māori tribal groups, the year ended with the setting of Matariki in May, and the new year begining with the rising of Matariki in June or July.
The celebration of New Year and winter festivals are common throughout the world. From Hogmanay in Scotland, Yule celebrations in old European cultures, to Chinese New Year.
In Aotearoa, the rising of Matariki signified mid-winter to Māori, and the promise of new life and prosperity.
How was Matariki traditionally celebrated?
As with many cultures around the world, mid-winter was typically a period of inactivity for Māori. The harvest would have been gathered and storage houses and pits filled.
Apart from the harvesting of kereru and korokoro, little work was undertaken at this time, and people were free to relax and entertain themselves with activities of a more pleasurable nature, such as dancing, music, art, games and other pastimes.Matariki – The Star of the Year by Rangi Matamua
As well as looking forward to the promise of a new year, it was also time to mourn and remember those that had been lost in the previous one.
When is Matariki?
Matariki is calculated to occur on the following dates over the next ten years:
|Year||Setting of Matariki||Rising of Matariki||Matariki Period|
|2020||15 May||13-16 July||13-20 July|
|2021||2 June||2-5 July||2-10 July|
|2022||23 May||21-24 June||21-29 June|
|2023||13 May||10-13 July||10-17 July|
|2024||31 May||29 June – 2 July||29 June – 6 July|
|2025||21 May||19-12 June||19-25 June|
|2026||8 June||8-11 July||8-14 July|
|2027||29 May||27-30 June||27 June – 4 July|
|2028||16 May||15-18 July||15-21 July|
|2029||4 June||4-7 July||4-12 July|
Matariki dates souced from: Matariki – The Star of the Year by Rangi Matamua
Where can I find Matariki?
In Aotearoa/New Zealand Matariki is visible for most of the year in the Northern night skies except for a few weeks between May and July.
The easiest way to find Matariki is to look for the very recognisable Orion constellation, commonly know as ‘the pot’, or Tautoru to Māori.
Follow the line of Orion’s belt, through the face of Taurus the bull and you will see a small cluster of stars. That is Matariki.
What will I see?
The cluster is also called ‘The Seven Sisters’, but with good eyes and clear skies, you may be able to make out up to nine stars within the cluster. It is actually made up of many more.