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Matariki

Ka puta Matariki, ka rere Whānui, ko te tohu o te tau - Plan for the future

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 the ceremony.
Te Ritenga - Matariki ceremony

Te Whāngai i te Hautapu

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Te Whāngai i ngā whetū – Feeding the stars

Because many of the different stars in Matariki are associated with food, and its role is to care for our dead and bring forth the bounty of the year, Māori give thanks to this star cluster 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, and this practise was guided by tohunga who conducted karakia (incantations) throughout. Once the ceremony was complete, a period of celebration, song, dance and feasting followed. People come together to enjoy the company of friends and family. Māori believe that when Matariki gathers in the sky, it calls people to gather on earth.

Every year there are many events that take place throughout the country honouring Matariki including lectures, dinners, balls and a host of different 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

Matariki gives us an opportunity to be guided by and respond to the environment around us. It aligns with the southern hemisphere climate and is now officially acknowledged and celebrated.

“To have Matariki recognised as a day of national significance is a small step into a shared future for Aotearoa and although it’s been a long time coming, Māori are well used to playing the long game,” Nepia Winiata.

What can I say to people to acknowledge Matariki?

Mānawatia a Matariki

To Honour/Celebrate 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

Māwana means honouring, welcoming, celebrating Matariki
maiea is to rise
te putanga o Matariki acknowledges the appearance of Matariki

This line inspired the phrase ‘Mānawatia a Matariki’ which conveys the meaning to celebrate, honour and venerate Matariki. May all the blessings and goodness of Matariki be be stowed upon.

This is a phrase that we can all use in our celebration of Matariki this year and beyond.