Matariki is the Māori name for a group of seven stars known as the Pleiades star cluster. Some people also think of Matariki as a mother star with six daughters so it is often referred to as the Seven Sisters.
Appearing in the Eastern sky sometime around the shortest day of the year, Matariki is thought to determine how successful the harvest crop will be in the coming season. The brighter the stars, the more productive the crop will be. Matariki disappear from view in April, and reappear again in between 25 – 28 June. Traditionally, this disappearance in Autumn signalled the time to gather and preserve crops and therefore was an important marker in the harvest calendar.
After the harvesting of traditional crops, such as kumara, pikopiko and karaka berries, when the storehouses were full, Māori would celebrate the harvest season. This celebration coincided with the reappearance of Matariki.
Nowadays New Zealand, and Lower Hutt, celebrate the rising of Matariki as the start of a new year in the Maori maramataka (lunar calendar) and as a time of remembrance and the planting of new trees and crops, signalling new beginnings.
How can you celebrate Matariki with your whanau this year?
Cook with traditional Māori vegetables – acknowledge the value of healthy kai as a taonga for achieving wellbeing.
Explore the outdoors – Matariki was a time to learn about the natural world.
Spend time with kids in the kitchen – it is important for children to learn the skill of cooking.
Get involved with your community – any easy way to do this is to attend one of the Matariki festivals in Lower Hutt this year. Two of these are:
- Naenae: Naenae Residents’ Association and Team Naenae Trust, with Hutt City Council support, are organising a week long community festival to celebrate Matariki. Join them for a week of activities (22 – 30 June) including kapa haka performances, film screenings, workshops, Matariki markets and more. Find out more about these activities and events here.
- Wainuiomata: Attend the Matariki Whānau Festival at Frederick Wise Park on Saturday 29 June, 4 – 7pm. Dress up warm and head along to this popular free Matariki family celebration that attracted thousands of delighted families last year. There will be singers, dancers, kapa haka, bands, hip hop dancers, free kiddies rides and hot kiwi kai on offer. Find out more about this event here.