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It all begins with the appearance of a distinct star cluster, known as Matariki or Pleiades. This cluster of seven stars can be seen in New Zealand during the winter months and holds great importance, marking the beginning of the Māori New Year.
Matariki is steeped in cultural significance, symbolizing a time of reflection, renewal, and connection with both the natural world and ancestors. Matariki signals the end of one agricultural year and the beginning of another and traditionally, Māori communities would gather to celebrate the rising of Matariki, engaging in various rituals and practices to honor the event.
Matariki provides an opportunity for individuals and communities to reflect on the past year, acknowledging both achievements and challenges. It is also a time to remember loved ones who have passed away.
Renewal & Growth
Just as Matariki marks the beginning of the new agricultural year, it also represents a period of personal and collective growth, encouraging people to set new goals and embrace opportunities that lie ahead. Māori also see this time as a chance to nurture and develop their cultural identity, passing down ancestral knowledge and traditions to future generations.
There are many stories and legends about the Matariki stars, one popular legend is that the seven stars are a mother and her six daughters. Each year they travel across the sky to visit their kuia (elder) earth mother. The daughters use their unique gifts to bring life and essence to earth’s different environments. Whilst they are visiting their kuia, they are also learning new skills and knowledge to pass onto others.
During Matariki, various traditional practices take place to mark the occasion, these include sharing traditional food, engaging in storytelling and waiata (songs), creating arts and crafts inspired by Matariki, and participating in cultural ceremonies such as karakia (prayers) and haka.
How to find the Matariki Stars
The Matariki Stars are best seen low on the horizon in the north east of the sky between about 5.30am and 6.30am.
If you can see the three well-known stars at the bottom of Orion’s Pot (Tautoru), you should be able to see a bright star above them (Puanga). To the left of these stars you may see a bright orange star (Taumata kuku) and further left the cluster of Matariki stars.
Hunters Plaza will be open Friday 14th July 10am-4:30pm