Matariki & Mid Winter Mindfulness

Matariki & Mid Winter Mindfulness

Matariki has been part of our culture in Aotearoa since people arrived on these islands, as a time when people gathered with loved ones to appreciate the present, enjoy the bounty of the harvest, remember those who had passed on, and set new goals for the coming year.

The reappearance of the Matariki stars in the early dawn marks the ending of the past year and heralds the start of a new year. 

Likewise, Winter Solstice occurs at a very similar time and has been celebrated by cultures all over the world for all of history, with common themes of gathering together, remembering loved ones and making plans for the future. The darkest, shortest day is a time for appreciation and setting your intentions as the days cease start growing longer and brighter as we head toward summer again.

Winter is a time for slowing down and taking time for self-care

Like the rest of the natural world, people are designed to take life a little easier in winter. For most of our history this was a time when food sources were scarce, staying warm was a constant challenge, and people spent more time indoors together.

Rest up

Daylight changes mean sleeping longer in winter is natural, with some people finding they wake for an hour or two in the night before dozing off again, like people did long ago when nights were commonly divided into a first and second sleep and it was normal to wake and chat, make love, reflect and spend quiet time together in the middle of the night. If you can, take the chance to go to bed a little earlier than usual or have a lie-in, even if that means having three wriggly kids in the bed while you read a few pages of your book.

Eat well

In the past, having less food available or even being unable to go and forage safely meant that getting through winter required storing food and being careful with how it lasted. The cold temperatures also prompt our body to store reserves and leave us with a yen for roasted kūmara and other carbs. In our modern supermarkets we can choose imported out-of-season produce but it's a great idea to shop local seasonal produce which is fresher and also suits what our bodies need in winter.

Indulge in self care

Appreciation of what we have should extend to gratefulness for our physical wellbeing as well, and the daily miracle that is our own body. Winter is a great time to nourish yourself with little self-care routines like long baths with epsom bath salts or skincare that protects your face and lips from the chill drying air. Dress warmly and comfortably, and indulge in those snuggly pajamas.

Make time for people

Create time for connection with friends and family. You might organise a Matariki Feast or schedule little kanohi-a-kanohi or tête-à-tête meetings with people individually. Book a group family call online to play games and share news - or settle in with a cup of tea and make that long phone call. The colder darker days are a great time to make the most of time with the ones you love...

and Matariki is a special time to remember those loved ones you cannot make a time to meet any more. You might like to write them a letter, create a poem or song, or take flowers to their special place as a way to remember them. Take advantage of the dark evenings to tell your children stories about the whanau they never met and enrich their whanaungatanga. 

Engage with Te Ao Marama

Another way to reaffirm our place in the world is to visit special places and connect with the natural world. Maybe your family can go for a walk at Piha on a sunday morning. Maybe you stroll Kohimarama at sunset. Maybe you gather onto a ferry and walk to the top of Rangitoto on a fine fresh winter's day. Maybe you enlist the crew to dig over the garden ready for new planting. (Keep a watch on Matariki - if the stars rise brightly, it's going to be a good planting season!)

Visualise your aspirations

Make plans and set your goals for the new year and years to come. There's no time like the present to create your future and Matariki reminds us that all things come to an end as well as bringing hopes and dreams for the days to come. Life is short, carpe diem! Write down your bucket list today and see what you can do to make those visions real this year. Think of things you want to achieve and identify what the first step must be to reach those goals. Dare yourself to do something you've dreamed of.


As our planet tilts toward the sun again, we're reminded of this whakataukī referring to when Tāne separated his parents, Papatūānuku (the earth mother) and Ranginui (the sky father), allowing the sun to shine into the world between them.

Tihē mauriora
Ki te whaiao, ki Te Ao Mārama


Tihē mauriora - (The breath of life - I sneeze, I am alive)
Ki te Whaiao - to the dawnlight
Ki te Te Ao Mārama - to the world of light, the natural world


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