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July 10 – 13: The Rise of Matariki

The mark of a new year

Every winter the rising of the stars of Matariki (and Puaka (Puanga)) herald the end of the lunar year and the start of the next within the Māori world. Traditionally Māori viewed the rising of Matariki as the time to farewell those who have passed in the previous year, celebrate the arrival of the new year and prepare for the coming year in the custom of the local iwi. Specific customs can vary from iwi to iwi however they are commonly themed around new beginnings.

The rising of Matariki in the morning sky is observed in the month of Pipiri (around June and July) and although the first lunar phases of Whiro, Tirea under the star of Pipiri occur sooner, Matariki cannot be seen during the new moon phase. So most Māori iwi wait until the lunar phase of Tangaroa (the last quarter phase of the moon) to observe and celebrate Matariki. This is to take direction from the stars, to make a connection between the celebration and the environment. The idea is about responding to the environment, aligning with it rather than trying to shape it to suit ourselves.

Matariki’s rising this year of 2023 is considered to occur from 10 July to 13 July 2023.