Let’s celebrate Matariki

June 25th, 2020 By Amy Jacob

In July, many people will be taking part in Matariki festivities around the country to celebrate the Māori New Year. Here's some information about how you can celebrate Matariki in your school and where to find resources to support teaching and learning.

Celebrating the New Year

The New Year is celebrated in many different ways, at various times all around the world.

In Denmark, the New Year is celebrated on 1 January. Throughout the year, Danish people collect broken bits of china, which they smash against their friends’ door on New Year’s Eve as a sign of affection. The number of broken plates there are in front of one’s door symbolises how many friends they will have in the New Year.

In Sri Lanka, the New Year known as ‘Aluth Avurudhu’ is celebrated in mid-April. House cleaning, lighting of the hearth, and cooking auspicious dishes are a few of the rituals that take place during this time.

In New Zealand, many people will be taking part in Matariki festivities in July to celebrate the New Year.

Photo of the Matariki star cluster taken by the Hubble space telescope overlaid with the word 'Matariki'
Matariki is the traditional Māori New Year by Ron Mader. Flickr. Some rights reserved: CC BY-SA 2.0


Matariki ahunga nui
Matariki taapuapua
Matariki hunga nui
Ngaa kai a Matariki
Naana i ao ake ki runga.

When Pleiades,
The gatherer,
Is bright in the sky
The year begins.

The Māori New Year is marked by the rise of Matariki, the Pleiades star cluster or the Seven Sisters, and the sighting of the next new moon.

Historically, Matariki marked the start of winter. During this time, Māori would come together to prepare for the cold season. Matariki was also used to predict future seasons. If the stars in the cluster were clear and bright during its pre-dawn rise, it was a sign that it would be a warm and bountiful season (he kaihaukai te tau). However, if the stars in the cluster were hazy and shimmering, it was believed it would be a cold and difficult season (he tau tūpuhi). Giving thanks and respecting nature was, and still is, very important to Māori. This is particularly emphasised during Matariki.

Matariki is a time for everyone to reflect on the past and plan for the future. It is also a time to spend with whānau, to remember those who have passed, and to learn about our whakapapa.

Matariki celebrations

This year, Matariki is due to begin on Monday 13 July. There are a number of events being held around the country to celebrate Matariki. Check out the following links to find events being held in some New Zealand centres, or search online for what's happening near you:

Celebrating Matariki in your school

There a number of ways you can celebrate Matariki in the classroom. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Teach your students the art of weaving or make origami stars representing the Seven Sisters.
  • There are a number of Māori legends associated with Matariki. Ask your students to present one of these legends as an illustrated story.
  • Ask your students to research the significance of Matariki in other parts of the world and share their findings in a blog post.
  • Ask your students to write a poem or short story about Matariki and share it with the class.
  • Teach your students the Matariki waitata, Ngā tamariki o Matariki, or another waiata to help them develop their skills in te reo Māori.

Matariki in Topic Explorer

Our Matariki topic set includes a variety of hand-picked resources that explore all aspects of Matariki, including stars, waiata, arts and craft, and more.

You may also find these topic sets useful:

Matariki in Many Answers

Check out our Many Answers entries about Matariki and related topics, which include links to a number of quality websites and other useful resources that have been carefully selected by our librarians.

Books about Matariki

Our school lending service has a number of Matariki-related books your school loan coordinator can order as an anytime title request. Secondary and composite schools are also able to borrow from our Wellington, New Zealand and Pacific Collection (look for books with this collection name in the 'Available at' field).

Your loan coordinator can also request books to support this topic as part of your term 3 whole-school loan order.

The Sapling has recently published a list of Matariki picture books 'to bring some Matariki stories into your home'.

So let's celebrate...

Matariki is a celebration of people, language, culture, spirituality, and history. Let’s use this as an opportunity to explore and celebrate the Māori culture and language.

This blog post

This post was originally published on 15 June 2017 and has been updated and republished with new information and resources.

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27 June 2017 4:22pm

that was a really good effort on this website