One of the most significant events in the Māori calendar is Matariki, the indigenous New Year.
Matariki can be translated in two ways – Mata Riki (Tiny Eyes) and Mata Ariki (eyes of God). The Matariki star cluster can be seen from all parts of the world and is commonly known as Pleiades. This star cluster disappears below the horizon in April and reappears in the north-eastern pre-dawn sky in late May or early June, marking the start of a new year. Celebrations most often occur at the next new moon after Matariki has risen.
Mr Rakihia Tau, the late Upoko of Ngāi Tūāhūriri, spoke to Mr Richard Liddicoat of the Christchurch City Council in July 2008 about the significance of Matariki, from a southern Māori historical perspective as well as whānau and personal perspectives.
This kōrero was recorded and is able to be read and listened to via this link. This korero is an exceptional explanation of the importance of Matariki as the start of a new year; noting the changes in the natural world, particularly the changes noted by food gatherers and hunters. It is the time for planning the next year’s activities; a time for wānanga; a time for hui and strengthening of whānau and hapu social bonds.
Today Matariki means celebrating the unique place in which we live and giving respect to the whenua we live on. It is a special time to celebrate the customs, art and uniqueness of Māori culture. It is the coming together of whānau and friends and of sharing each other’s skills, achievements and history. There is storytelling, song and dance, carving and weaving, ancient ceremonies and passing on of knowledge and history. Throughout Matariki we learn about those who came before us: whakapapa, whānau, iwi – our history, our family, our ancestors.
Matariki signals growth. It’s a time of change, a time to prepare and a time of action. During Matariki we acknowledge what we have and what we have to give. Matariki celebrates the diversity of life. It’s a celebration of culture, language, spirit and people.
Celebrations in Ōtautahi Christchurch include:
Whānau Fun Day at Rehua Marae 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
The new wharenui at Tuahiwi which the late RakihiaTau was instrumental in creating.