As the earth tilts away from the sun and we spend our shortened days looking forward to the return of Hine Raumati, the summer maiden, we can use this time to slow down a little and spend time close to home.

Matariki (Pleiades) is a star cluster that appears in our skies during the winter months of June and July. The cluster is made up of over 500 stars, but only six or seven are visible to the naked eye. The appearance of these stars marks an important time to reflect on the past year and plan for the one coming.

For many iwi and hāpu, Matariki was a time when the harvests of the summer season had been appropriately stored to sustain the people through the winter and the preparations for a new season were started. It was also a time to retreat to the warmth and safety of a home base.

Next year Matariki will be a public holiday(external link)(external link), marking Aotearoa New Zealand’s first Te Ao Māori holiday. It will be a day to spend sharing food, stories, knowledge and memories.

Weather events, icy roads and an increase in home heating make winter a very busy time for our people. We hope that those who can take advantage of the day are able to spend it in a way that fills their tank and lifts their wairua, spirits. Whether it’s rugged up at home with loved ones, out and about in our communities or spending some time alone enjoying nature.

Ways you can honour the appearance of Matariki;

  • Look up! Can you see Matariki? Depending on where you are in the country you will see different stars. 
  • Light a candle (safely) to remember loved ones who are no longer with us
  • Learn something new, like the traditions of this country which go back hundreds of years!
  • Get into nature, Matariki is an opportunity to honour our environment
  • Make plans for the year coming, maybe plan to grow a garden?
  • Exchange handmade gifts
  • Have a Matariki feast
  • Finally, have fun! You can spend this time telling stories, playing board games or learning waiata

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