Matariki: Happy Maori New Year 2007!

Ma te wheturangi o Matariki,
e tiaki mai, e manaaki mai i a koe,
i a koutou ranei, mo te tau e taka mai ana.

May the gentle light of Matariki guide and inspire you all this year.

Traditionally, Maori were keen observers of the night sky, determining from the stars the time and seasons, and using them to navigate the oceans. Lookouts would watch for the rise of Matariki just before dawn. For Maori, this time signified remembrance, fertility and celebration. It begins with the sighting of the first new moon after the first appearance of Matariki – or Pleiades. This year, Matariki occurs today, on 16 June. We are looking forward to a wonderful weekend of celebrations in Wellington, with an array of events being hosted by Te Papa, Capital E and Wellington City Council.

Unfortunately we woke to a cloudy sky and haven’t spotted the new moon yet, but this hasn’t stopped Sophie searching avidly all day. We started the celebrations with ‘fish and chip’ Friday at Kindergarten this evening, in the great company of fellow families with children in attendance at Lyall Bay Kindi.

We are looking forward to learning more over the coming weeks, with wonderful educational events being held at Te Papa and Capital E. And there’s always tons of on-line learning fun – particularly at wickED Fun Learning Site for Kids.

Matariki, or Maori New Year celebrations have been getting bigger and better over the past few years. When we first arrived in New Zealand (in 1996) we didn’t hear anything about Matariki. Apparently events were once popular, but stopped in the 1940s. In 2000, they were revived. A special feature of Matariki celebrations is the flying of kites. According to ancient custom they flutter close to the stars; so we plan to head to the beach to let the southerly wind toss our kites skyward.

For more information visit Explore Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.