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Matariki Celebrations

Te Ritenga - Matariki ceremony

Te Whāngai i te Hautapu

Join Dr Rangi Matamua as he explains Te Whāngai i te Hautapu, the traditional Matariki ceremony.

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Te Whāngai i te Hautapu

Because many of the different stars in Matariki are associated with food, Māori give thanks for its role in caring for the dead and bringing forth the bounty of the year by offering food. Before the rising of Matariki, special food is taken from the gardens, forests, rivers, and ocean and is cooked in an earth oven. This oven is uncovered and the steam of the food rises into the sky to feed Matariki. 

This is the Whāngai i te Hautapu ceremony, which is generally called hautapu, which is guided by tohunga who conducted karakia (incantations) throughout. Once the ceremony is complete, a period of celebration, song, dance, and feasting follows. People come together to enjoy the company of friends and family as Māori believe that when Matariki gathers in the sky, it calls people to gather on earth.

Other Ways to Celebrate

Matariki gives us an opportunity to be guided by and respond to the environment around us. Every year there are many events that take place throughout the country honouring Matariki, including lectures, dinners, balls, and other celebrations.

Today there are many different ways you can acknowledge the Māori New Year and observe the rising of Matariki. Here are a list of suggestions:

  • Take time to remember loved ones who are no longer with us
  • Give thanks for the year that has passed
  • Cook a meal and offer it to Matariki
  • Plan for the next year
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Have a Matariki feast
  • Plan to grow a garden
  • Write down your wishes for the year
  • Celebrate in your own way

Many groups and individuals rise early in the morning and head outside to view Matariki before sunrise, offering their thoughts, words, and karakia to the stars. Some still call out the names of the dead, some still read the stars and try to predict the bounty of the new season, and some still cook food for Matariki and offer this food in their own hautapu ceremony.

Acknowledging Matariki

Dr Rangi Matamua and Hēmi Kelly discussed what might be a phrase that people can use during the Matariki season – something along the lines of ‘Happy Matariki’ which is grounded in a Māori way of thinking. Rangi referenced a line from a karakia passed down to him from Sir Pou Temara:

Mānawa maiea te putanga o Matariki
To honour or celebrate Matariki when it rises in the sky

The line inspired the phrase Mānawatia a Matariki, which conveys the meaning to celebrate, honour, and venerate Matariki. It’s an easy way to say, “May all the blessings and goodness of Matariki be bestowed upon you.” This is a phrase we can all use in our celebration of Matariki.

Mānawatia a Matariki!