The Matariki star cluster reappears in the dawn sky above New Zealand in June and July each year, signalling the start of the Māori New Year.
Matariki is a time to celebrate new beginnings and plan for the year ahead. It’s a time to spend with whānau and friends, to reconnect, enjoy kai, share stories and reflect on the year gone by and plan for the future through whakapapa, songs, games, carving, weaving and historical stories.
Local Tainui history tells that a sign was seen in the Matariki constellation at the birth of King Koroki. The Waikato people call this sign, Te Waka o Tainui. During Matariki the waka cast a net across the earth, gathering all those who have passed in the previous year. Ancestors would weep and lament as Matariki carried their dead into the afterlife.
The meaning of each Matariki star
Each of the stars in the Matariki cluster has a distinct story and significance in Māori culture.
According to one Māori myth, the cluster represents a whaea or mother - Matariki - and her six daughters Tupuānuku, Tupuārangi, Waipunarangi, Waitī, Waitā and Ururangi.
The name Matariki refers to both the star cluster as a whole and a specific star, which signifies reflection, hope, our connection to the environment and the health and wellbeing of people.
Tupu-ā-nuku (“tupu” means ‘to grow’ and “nuku” is the shortened version of “Papatuanuku” meaning ‘Earth’) is the star connected with everything that grows in the ground to be harvested or gathered for food.
Tupu-ā- rangi is the star associated with Tanemahuta, god of the forest, the forests, trees, berries and birds. It stands for renewal of our nature and new plantings and growth.
Waitī is connected with all freshwater bodies and the food sources sustained by those waters. Waitī watches over freshwater environments including awa (rivers), roto (lakes), kūkūwai (wetlands), and waipuna (springs).
Waitā represents the ocean and the seafood that can be harvested from it. This star encourages us to respect our coasts, oceans and marine life.
Waipuna-ā-Rangi is connected with the winter sky waters in all their forms – ua (rain) ua nganga (hail) and hukarere (snow)
Ururangi is connected with the various winds including Hauraro (the north wind), Tonga (the south wind), Hauāuru (the west wind), and Marangai (the east wind).
Disclaimer: The information that you will find on this website and in other sources will differ because different iwi share different kōrero regarding Matariki. You can find more information here