Celebrate Māori New Year

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Matariki, also known as Pleiades or the seven sisters.
Matariki, also known as Pleiades or the seven sisters.

Matariki is the Maori celebration of the New Year.

Matariki is named after the cluster of stars known as Pleiades, the seven sisters, or in Maori history Mata ariki ,’the eyes of god’. In Māori mythology, it’s said that Tawhirimatea, the god of weather, was so angry by his parent’s separation that he ripped out his eyes and threw them into the heavens.

The Maori New Year starts in late May or early June when the Matariki cluster of stars is seen before the dawn. This year, June 18 is the start of the Matariki celebrations.

Traditionally this is a time for the community to come together to share kai (food), reflect on the year gone by, remember the dead and to celebrate new life and prepare for the year ahead.

Matariki is also a signal for the year to come. If the stars are clear and bright, then the year will be warm and productive and crops will be planted in September. If they are dark and hard to see, it calls for preparations for a cold year and for crops to be planted in October.

A special part of Matariki is the flying of pākau (kites), which fly close to the heavens. Traditional dancing and waiata (song) are also an important part of the celebrations.

Check out Matariki celebrations in Auckland here.

Photo by pbkwee

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