Celebrations are gearing up across the motu for Matariki: Te Tau Hou Māori.
It’s a time to embrace Te Ao Māori and reflect on the past, celebrate the present and plan for the future. On Friday, Aotearoa marks the festival for the first time with a public holiday as a commitment to ensure Mātauranga Māori is at the heart of the celebration, and to give everyone a chance to get involved in the many events around the country.
Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in midwinter and for many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year. Iwi across New Zealand understand and celebrate Matariki in different ways and at different times.
Matariki Hunga Nui means the many people of Matariki. It speaks to how Matariki calls people to gather together to remember and honour those we have lost since the last rising of Matariki. Matariki is said to carry the dead across the night sky throughout the year, and when the names of deceased are called out, Māori believe the spirits of the dead become stars in the sky.
Matariki Ahunga Nui talks to the great food piles of Matariki. Kai and feasting are central elements in Matariki, and people would share the fruits of the harvest. Other forms of celebration included music, dance, art and spending time together.
Matariki Manako Nui refers to wishes and desires. Māori would send their hopes and dreams into the stars during Matariki. This was a period for learning, sharing, discussion and decision-making. One of the key points of discussion during Matariki was the environment, especially the health of the environment. Many wishes of the ancestors were connected to well-being of people and the taiao. Māori understood that lives depended on maintaining a strong connection to the physical world and caring for nature.
Chris Webber Māori Policy Advisor, PHANZ, says ‘gather, remember, share and plan’ are principles inspired by Matariki that can be applied in our thinking as a public health whanau.
‘As your team does an annual ‘reset’, the spirit of collective energy, gratitude and connectedness can lift the fruits of our planning to new heights.’
Nau mai i ngā hua, nau mai i ngā taonga, nau mai i te mātahi o te tau!
Welcome the fruits of the year, welcome the many treasures, welcome the New Year!