Matariki Frequently Asked Questions

Matariki is the Māori name for the star cluster most commonly know as Pleiades. Traditionally Māori used the rising of Matariki as a marker for the New Year.

It depends on the culture and location. Across the world some have 6, others 7 some have 9 and some even have 12. In Aotearoa some believe there are 7 stars in Matariki while others say there are 9.

Matariki (f) connected to health and wellbeing and is also the Mother to the other stars in the cluster

Pōhutakawa (f) connected to those who have passed on, in particular those that have passed since the last rising of Matariki

Tupuānuku (f) connected to food grown in the ground (eg kumara etc)

Tupuārangi (m) connected to food from the sky (eg birds etc)

Waitī (f) connected to fresh water food (eg tuna etc)

Waitā (m) connected to salt water food (eg fish etc)

Waipunarangi (f) connected to rain

Ururangi (m) connected to winds

Hiwa-i-te rangi (f) connected to your dreams and desires for the year ahead.

Matariki follows a lunar calendar system which is different to our modern solar calendar, so the Matariki dates change each year, just like Easter.

During the correct lunar phase of the correct lunar month Māori would welcome in the New Year with a ceremony called Whāngai i te Hautapu. This is where they would perform a series of karakia and cook food from the environment as an offering to the stars for the bounties given to us from the year that had passed. After the formal ceremony Māori would gather to feast, play games, plan and prep for the year ahead.

While in some areas of Aotearoa there are still formal ceremonies happening, celebrating Matariki can be as simple as having a shared feast with whānau and friends celebrating who we are and where we are at the present time, remembering those that have passed since the last rising of Matariki and planning for the year ahead.

Different iwi use different stars as markers that tell them when they should celebrate the New Year. Some iwi use Puanga some Rehua while others use Atutahi.

Mānawatia a Matariki