Matariki is the Māori name for a cluster of stars which is visible in our night sky at a specific time of the year. In 2020, the Matariki cluster set on 15 May and will rise from 13–16 July. The Matariki period is 13–20 July.

The Matariki cluster has nine visible stars: Matariki, Tupu-ā-Rangi, Waipuna-ā-Rangi, Waitī, Tupu-ā-Nuku, Ururangi, Waitā, Pōhutukawa and Hiwa-i-te-Rangi. Each star within the Matariki cluster holds a certain significance over our wellbeing and environment, as seen from the Māori view of the world.

Our tūpuna Māori look to Matariki for help with their harvesting of crops and other food sources. When Matariki disappeared from the sky in April/May, it was time to preserve crops for the winter season. When it re-appeared in June/July, our tūpuna would read the stars to predict the upcoming season – clear and bright stars promised a warm and abundant winter while hazy stars warned of a bleak winter.

Today Matariki is understood by many as an important time to celebrate the taiao and show respect and thanks for our environment and all it provides us. It is a time to spend with whānau and friends – to share kai, waiata/haka, whakapapa, and tākaro.

Matariki is also a time to celebrate new life, to remember those who’ve passed and to plan for the future. In acknowledging our tūpuna and all of those whom have come before us, we also recognise the shared history of Aotearoa, as tangata whenua, Pākehā and tauiwi alike.

The arrival of Matariki has come as communities around Aotearoa, and the world, continue to engage in a crucial conversation around race and injustice. Through a greater understanding and appreciation of our shared history and colonial past, we can better understand the present and plan for our improved and shared future.

As we come together with whānau and friends to celebrate Matariki and all that the taiao provides us, let’s continue to plan and mahi toward a better and more just future for all New Zealanders.

Matariki events are planned in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and all around Aotearoa.

For more information on Matariki visit here.

Keep a look out for the next Tertiary Update, 14 July, for our Tertiary Update: Matariki Special.