Six ways for families to celebrate Matariki
Matariki is the traditional Māori New Year, and the Māori name for a group of seven stars known as the Pleiades star cluster. It’s usually celebrated towards the end of June (Pipiri), a few days after the Southern Hemisphere’s shortest day. It’s a winter celebration so we’ve come up with some simple ways to celebrate Matariki with your whanau that incorporate the season.
A time for feasting
Make Matariki a time when the whole whanau gets together to feast and give thanks. You could explore traditional Māori kai and ways of cooking, such as the ‘boil up’ of pork and puha, the hangi where food is cooked by steaming it in a pit in the ground using hot rocks, or baking some rewena, or Māori bread. You could also bake some star-shaped cookies and let the tamariki (kids) decorate them with icing.
Reap the harvest and prepare the garden
June is a great time to plant fruit trees and winter veges for a continuous supply. It's also time to begin thinking about the next season and the crops you might want to grow and harvest. Plant winter staples including brassicas, beetroot, leafy greens and herbs. It could become a family tradition to do the gardening together – at least for one day of the year! The Matariki disappear from view in April, and reappear again in late May/early June. The disappearance of Matariki in Autumn, signals the time to gather and preserve crops, so it was an important marker in the harvest calendar.
Plant some trees
Contact your local Department of Conservation to find out about regeneration projects happening in your area. Organise to plant a tree on Matariki, or better still, get together with a group of friends and plant several. Planting projects that encourage community involvement are accessible to all cultures, ages, and genders. Trees in parks promote civil pride and provide a place for play and recreation.
Check out the stars
Check out this video by educator Martin Langdon, on behalf of Te Papa Museum to see how to find the Matariki constellation, then depending on the weather, head outside of an evening and see if you can spot it. For a more in-depth look at the Matariki stars, Auckland’s Star Dome has daytime shows for kids.
Tell your own family stories
Maori culture is strong on whakapapa or genealogy. Kids love hearing stories about their parents and other family members, and you don’t have to go too far back in time. You could gather together some extended family and have a story-telling session. Perhaps if the weather’s good, you could even rug up and do it under the stars - with a hot chocolate to help keep everyone warm.
Update your New Year’s resolutions
Most of us come up with our New Year’s resolutions in January, but by the time June rolls around they can be long forgotten! Matariki is a great time to renew or update your resolutions, or even check in on how your original ones are going.
Kia hari tō wā Matariki!