Matariki

Where can I find information about Matariki?

Senior Primary

(Years 5-8)

Colour image of the whetu (stars) of Matariki (also known as the Pleiades) shining brightly in the night sky.

Image: M45 Pleiades by pbkwee on Flickr.

Entry last updated: 17/06/24

Introduction

Matariki is the Māori name for the star cluster also known as the Pleiades or Seven Sisters in other cultures. The rise of Matariki in mid-winter marks the start of the new year for most iwi in traditional Māori culture. Some iwi celebrate Puanga instead.

Matariki is now celebrated in a variety of ways around Aotearoa New Zealand and became a public holiday in 2022.

Stars of Matariki and Puanga

Some iwi recognise seven stars and some recognise nine. There are also some iwi where Puanga is given importance. This is a list of names of stars in the Matariki cluster.

Matariki: Sometimes seen as the mother of the cluster. She is connected to health and wellbeing.

Pōhutakawa: This star is connected to the dead and those who have passed away in the last year.

Tupuānuku: Connected to food grown in the ground.

Tupuārangi: Connected to the forest and everything that grows above the ground and in trees eg fruit and birds.

Waitī: Relates to freshwater like rivers, streams, and lakes and the food sources in them.

Waitā: Relates to salt water and all the creatures and food in the sea.

Waipuna-ā-rangi: Connected to rain.

Ururangi: Connected to the winds.

Hiwa-i-te-rangi: Known as the wishing star. It is connected to the promise of a prosperous season.

Puanga: In some Māori pūrākau, Puanga is the older brother of Matariki.

General websites

Although the star cluster is recognised and celebrated in other cultures, the stories and traditions about Matariki are unique to New Zealand. This means the best place to look for information on this topic is on New Zealand websites.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is a great starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa.

  • Enter the keyword 'Matariki' in the search box.

  • Look for the story called Matariki – Te Tau Hou Māori.

  • This is the Story summary, so remember to try other links under Contents to find more information.

  • If you look under All images and media you will find pictures and videos about Matariki too.

Tips: We can tell from its website address that this site is a government site because it has .govt in the address, so we can be confident the information is well-researched and reliable.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg matariki. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Te Papa Tongarewa | Museum of New Zealand

New Zealand’s national museum also has lots of good information on Matariki.

  • Enter 'Matariki' into the search box at the top of the page.

  • You will find here a link called Matariki: The Māori New Year.

  • The link What is Matariki? has a good explanation about the difference between Matariki and Puanga.

  • The link The Maramataka is about the Māori lunar calendar.

Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more.

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa - Matariki

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is a learning environment where people can learn te reo Māori and more. This is their website about Matariki.

  • Go to Matariki History to find out about Matariki in the Ancient World, in the Pacific, and The Origins of Matariki.

  • Choose The Stars of Matariki and then Te Iwa o Matariki to learn about the stars.

  • Celebrating Matariki is all about Matariki ceremonids and celebrations.

  • The pages all have videos.

Christchurch City Libraries

Christchurch City Libraries is a group of public libraries belonging to Christchurch City Council. Its website has lots of pages of information on popular New Zealand topics such as Matariki.

  • Select Website in the box called Search the and then enter 'Matariki' into the search box.

  • Find the link called Matariki for kids to read about traditions, stories, activities and links to other Matariki websites.

Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more. This searching method is called “pearl growing” because you are picking up pieces of sand to make a beautiful pearl!

Museums Wellington

This is the site for four museums in Wellington. It has information about Matariki and how to find it in the morning sky.

Matariki.com

This site has been put together by Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage and Te Māngai Pāho.

  • Go to He Kōrero mō Matariki to find out about Matariki.

  • Or go to Huihuinga to discover Events that are happening in your area for Matariki.

  • Find the menu for All events to choose your region.

Books

Your local or school library may also have some books about Matariki. Check out these titles:

SCIS no: 1832262

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