Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Matariki is the Māori name for the small cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, in the Taurus constellation. Coming into view in the mid-winter dawn sky - usually late May or early June – the rising of Matariki and the sighting of the next new moon heralds the Māori New Year. 

Matariki means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki). There are different stories surrounding the stars’ origin and significance; some say Matariki is the mother surrounded by her six daughters, Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi, Waitī, Waitā, Waipuna-ā-rangi and Ururangi, who appear to assist the sun, Te Rā, whose winter journey has left him weakened. 

Stars were once relied on to determine time, seasons, and navigation; they were a marker of continuity and reliability in a changeable world. Matariki is marker of transition, from one year to the next. Traditionally, Matariki was a time to mourn and reflect, harvest crops and plant for the coming year, as well as celebrate new beginnings. A special feature of Matariki celebrations is the flying of kites (pākau), which were thought to get close to the stars. 

Our print that celebrates Matariki. Find the tea towel here.

Today, Matariki offers an opportunity to revel and give respect to our unique country, landscape, and culture. This year, Matariki began on the 6th of June. The stars of Matariki can be found between 5:30am and 6:30am, low on the horizon in the north-east. Visit the Te Ara website to see a great beginners guide to finding Matariki. 

The rising of the Matariki star cluster heralds in a month of celebration across Aotearoa. This year, there are more than 100 events across Auckland. The 2016 Matariki Festival runs from the 18 June – 17 July. Visit the festival website to see what’s on in your area. 

Matariki celebrations were prevalent before the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand, but dwindled in popularity into the 20th century. At the beginning of the 21st century, Matariki festivals and celebrations were revived, and have become increasingly popular each year. Matariki is something we at Pauanesia take pride in, and love to support and celebrate. 

Happy New Year from Pauanesia! 

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