7 Simple ways to celebrate Matariki

7 Simple ways to celebrate Matariki

As the winter chill sets in and the nights grow longer, it's time to celebrate Matariki, the Māori new year.

Māori legend has it that Tāwhirimatea, atua of wind, enraged at the separation of his parents Ranginui, sky father and Papatūānuku, earth mother by his siblings, tore his own eyes out and threw them into the sky, thus becoming the star cluster we see in midwinter known as Matariki.

For those who are new to this beautiful holiday or simply looking for new ways to connect with their Māoritanga, here are 7 simple ideas to help you celebrate with your whānau.

1. Remember loved ones who have passed on: Matariki is a time to reflect on those who have gone before us. Whether it's visiting a gravesite, sharing favourite memories, or singing songs that remind you of loved ones, find a way to honour their memory in a way that feels right for your whānau.

2. Write down your goals for the year ahead: The new year is a perfect time to set intentions and aspirations for the future. Take some time to reflect on the past year and think about what you hope to achieve in the year ahead. Whether you do this individually or as a family, setting goals can help you focus your energy and intentions for the coming year.

3. Engage with reo Māori: Embrace the language and culture of Aotearoa by learning new kupu (words), kiwaha (expressions), waiata (songs), or karakia (prayers). Connect with your whakapapa (family history) and learn your pepeha (tribal affiliations). Remember, it's okay to make mistakes - the important thing is to keep learning and growing.

4. Share a meal with friends and family: Matariki is all about whānau and what better way to celebrate than with kai (food)! Whether you cook a traditional Māori dish or simply share a meal with loved ones, coming together over food is a great way to connect and celebrate the spirit of Matariki.

5. Look for Matariki while stargazing: Take some time to gaze up at the night sky or search for the nine stars of Matariki before the sun rises. Even if you can't find them, spending time in nature with your family is a wonderful way to connect with the world around you.

Photo by Marc Sendra Martorell on Unsplash

To find Matariki in the sky, look towards the eastern horizon before the sun rises, and follow these steps:
Find three bright stars in a line. Māori call these stars Tautoru; they are also known as Orion’s belt.
Next, trace to the left of Tautoru/Orion’s belt until you come to a group of stars that look like a pyramid. This is Te Kokotā.
Finally, if you look to the left of Te Kokotā you will see Matariki. – tepapa.govt.nz

6. Read a Matariki story: Head to your local library and find a pukapuka (book) about Matariki to read with your tamariki (children). This simple yet meaningful tradition can help you learn more about the cultural significance of Matariki and pass on these stories to the next generation.

7. Plant a veggie garden: Connect with maramataka (the Māori lunar calendar) and nature by planting a vegetable garden. Even if you only have space for a single plant or tree, the act of giving back to Papatūānuku (mother earth) can be a powerful way to celebrate Matariki and honour the land that sustains us.

Celebrate Matariki in your own unique way this year, whether it's through remembrance, goal-setting, language learning, sharing meals, stargazing, storytelling, or gardening. However you choose to celebrate, may Matariki bring warmth, light, and connection to your whānau during the cold winter months. Mānawatia a Matariki! (Happy Māori New Year)

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