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Te Tōnga a Matariki

The setting of Matariki

Te Tōnga a Matariki

Join Dr Rangi Matamua as he shares with us knowledge around the setting of Matariki.

Play Video about Te waka o Rangi

The setting of Matariki

As the end of the Māori year approaches, the Matariki star cluster will begin to set with the sun in the Western sky. At this time Matariki isn’t visible. This occurs around the Tangaroa-ā-mua lunar phase during the star marama of Haratua (around 23 May). This period lasts around a month (a lunar cycle) until Matariki rises once again on the next Tangaroa-ā-mua lunar phase. This coincides with the date 21 June 2022 and is when most iwi observe Matariki rising.

Matariki whanaunga kore - Remember those who have passed

While Matariki is associated life, it also has a strong connection with death. The star Pōhutukawa in particular is associated with those whom have passed away. Once tohunga kōkōrangi have ascertained the Matariki signs for the year ahead, the community will gather together to mourn the dead. Te Tirohanga (the viewing), Te Whakamahara i ngā mate (Remembering the dead) and Te Whāngai i ngā whētu (Feeding the stars) are outlined in our free eBook here and will be discussed more during upcoming days.

Te waka o Rangi

Connected to the setting of Matariki is the constellation known as “Te Waka o Rangi”.

Known by a variety of names based on regionalised kōrero, Te Waka o Rangi is a canoe with Matariki (Pleiades) at the front and Tautoru (Orion’s Belt) at the back which is captained by a star named Taramainuku. Taramainuku casts his net (Te Kupenga a Taramainuku) each evening upon the Earth and hauls up the souls of those who have died that day. The spirits of the deceased are placed on his waka until the Tangaroa moons Haratua when the year ends, Matariki sets and Te waka o Rangi is seen vertical in the Western sky setting with the sun. As Matariki sets from view, we know that Taramainuku is taking our loved ones onwards to their journey into the heavens of Rarohenga. 

Te waka o Rangi

How can I participate in this phase of Matariki?

Kia āta whakaaro - A time for mindfulness

The setting of Matariki is a time for mindfulness and reflection. It’s a time to make the most of our loved ones and spend time together to share ideas, wānanga/learn together. It’s a time to get creative with artistic pursuits and do those indoor activities. 

Matariki, including its setting occurs during the Winter season when all of the crop harvests are long complete. The pātaka (pantry/larder/food store) is full and as the gardens aren’t producing as much; we eat from the preserves to get through the winter. It’s a time for winding down and keeping warm by the fire. The woodshed should be full from the activities in the warmer seasons to stock up on firewood and keep the whare (home) adequately fuelled.