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Matariki refers to a constellation of stars also known as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters.

Matariki has two meanings in Māori; small faces (mata riki) or regal faces (mata ariki). Each year, around June, Matariki rises on the pre-dawn eastern horizon signalling the end of the Māori year. The new year then begins at the sighting of the next new moon.

During this period Māori would observe Matariki's appearance every evening and predict the success (or otherwise) of the new season's crop according to its degree of visibility. The brighter the stars, the warmer the season predicted, the better the crops grown.

Matariki also heralds a time when families would gather to reflect, teach, learn and plan for the future. Today, these traditions are emerging again with Māori communities throughout the country joining together and uniting with other communities to celebrate Matariki.

In some parts of Te Waipounamu (the South Island) and other areas of Aotearoa (New Zealand) the new year is signalled instead by the rise of Puanga, known also as Rigel.

 

Useful Documents

Matariki brochure

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