Matariki – our Māori New Year

It is upon us, so here’s a run-down on what Matariki is about.

What is Matariki

Matariki is the Māori name for a cluster of stars which is visible in our night sky at a specific time of the year. In 2019, from 25 to 28 June, Matariki will re-appear in the dawn sky – signalling the start of the Māori New Year.

It is a time to celebrate new life, to remember those who’ve passed and to plan for the future. And it’s a time to spend with whānau and friends – to enjoy kai (food), waiata (song), tākaro (games) and haka.

Our tūpuna (ancestors) would look to Matariki for help with their harvesting. When Matariki disappeared in April/May, it was time to preserve crops for the winter season. When it re-appeared in June/July, tūpuna would read the stars to predict the upcoming season – clear and bright stars promised a warm and abundant winter while hazy stars warned of a bleak winter.

Because Māori follow the Māori lunar calendar, not the European calendar, the dates for Matariki change every year. See Matariki dates for the next 10 years below.

How many stars does Matariki have?

Matariki has nine visible stars, according to leading Māori astronomer, Dr Rangi Matamua, who’s been researching Matariki for over 30 years. As part of his research, Dr Matamua found that some of his own tūpuna were able to see nine stars.

The nine visible stars include: Matariki, Tupuārangi, Waipuna-ā-Rangi, Waitī, Tupuānuku, Ururangi, Waitā, Pōhutukawa and Hiwa-i-te-Rangi.

Each star holds a certain significance over our wellbeing and environment, as seen from the Māori view of the world.

Ngā whetū o Matariki

When to observe Matariki

The optimum time to observe the rising of Matariki is in the phase of the moon known as Tangaroa, the moon of plenty. The Tangaroa moon phase occurs in the three or four days leading to a new moon and will fall on different dates each year.

Here are the dates for the next 10 years:

Year Setting Rise Period
2019 27 May 25-28 June 25 June-3 July
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 11-17 July
2024 31 May 29 June-2 July 29 June-6 July
2025 21 May 19-22 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

Matariki dates sourced from: Matariki - The Star of the Year by Dr Rangi Matamua.

Taringa - punua pāoho

Matariki expert and leading maori astronomy expert Professor Dr Rangi Matamua and leading Hawaiian expert Assistant Professor C.M Kaliko Baker joined Snowy and Paraone to discuss Matariki.

Te Iwa o Matariki Resources

Find out more about Te Iwa o Matariki with these helpful resources.

Te Iwa o Matariki poster (Te Reo Māori)

Te Iwa o Matariki poster (English)

Te Iwa o Matariki colouring book

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