What Matariki means to us


This year marks the first time we get to celebrate Matariki as a public holiday, and for most, comes the question of what actually is this new holiday? Well, it’s not new, Māori iwi have been celebrating the rise of Matariki for generations. It happens every year around June/July when the Matariki cluster of stars reappears in our night sky and a new moon rises.

To mark the start of this new year in the Māori lunar calendar, Matariki was traditionally celebrated with offerings to tupuna, ritual fires, feasts sharing the bounty of the harvest and planning for the new year. It was thought by the tangata whenua that the brighter the stars, the more prosperous the new year’s harvest.

Since the early 2000’s, Matariki has had a revival in popularity with people taking part in events across Aotearoa. It’s seen as a time to remember our past loved ones, celebrate what has been and hope for a peaceful new year. Now, communities come together and celebrate with kai, waiata and shared stories.

But, what is Matariki?

Although the star cluster Matariki is known around the world by different names to different cultures, the Māori have a few legends as to how the stars came to be. The most popular legend is the star Matariki is a mother surrounded by her daughters, Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi, Ururangi, Waipunā-ā-rangi, Hiwa-i-te-rangi, Waitī and Waitā, and Pōhutukawa. Matariki and her daughters journey across the sky each year to visit Papatūānuku. During their visit, each of the stars help Papatūānuku to prepare for the year ahead.

How they aide the earth mother:

  • Matariki helps with well-being and health
  • Tupu-ā-rangi helps the food that comes from above
  • Tupu-ā-nuku helps the food that grows in the soil
  • Ururangi helps the winds
  • Waipunā-ā-rangi helps rainwater
  • Hiwa-i-te-rangi helps with growth and prosperity
  • Waitī helps fresh water
  • Waitā helps the ocean
  • Pōhutukawa helps the deceased

Each star serves as a reminder for us to support one another, grow our skills, share your gifts and appreciate others, be thankful for kindness and keep a positive outlook.

This Matariki, Sleepyhead are thankful for you, we acknowledge our history in Aotearoa and we’re looking forward to an exciting year ahead.

We hope you enjoy Matariki this year by heading over to an event held in your community and embrace this time of remembrance and reflection.

Ngā mihi o Matariki, te tau hou Māori!

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