Matariki signifies a time to gather, reflect, remember those who are no longer with us, celebrate the present, and plan for the future.
The rising of Matariki signals the beginning of the Māori New Year. Māori have long observed the brightness and visibility of the stars to predict how the year ahead will be.
Although there are about a thousand whetū (stars) in Matariki, nine stars are visible to the unaided eye. In te ao Māori, each of the whetū is associated with an aspect of wellbeing and the environment:
- Matariki (Alcyone) – people’s health and wellbeing
- Tupu-ā-rangi (Atlas) – things that grow up in trees, including fruits, berries and birds
- Waipuna-ā-rangi (Electra) – rainfall
- Waitī (Maia) – freshwater bodies and foods from these waters
- Ururangi (Merope) – the winds
- Tupu-ā-nuku (Pleione) – food that is gathered/harvested from the soil
- Waitā (Taygeta) – the ocean and foods that come from it
- Pōhutukawa (Sterope) – those who have passed on
- Hiwa-i-te-rangi (Calaeno) – attainment of goals.
Matariki is is visible in many locations around the world - the Greek name is the Pleiades, in Japan it's called Subaru and in China it is Mao, the Hairy Head of the White Tiger of the West.
Science spot....the stars we see in Matariki are relatively young - born together in a nebula at about the same time. They are much larger than our Sun & Matariki is one of the nearest star clusters to Earth – it’s just 444.2 light years away!