The coming of takurua (winter) and the rising of the Matariki star constellation signals the beginning of the Māori New Year.
Historically for Māori, the sighting of the Matariki star constellation helped them to better understand the seasons, navigate safely while on waka voyages and predict the fertility of the whenua (land) in order to harvest and grow crops.
Today, Matariki continues to be celebrated within Māori and other New Zealand communities, and although the landscapes around us have changed, it is still viewed as a time
to acknowledge the whenua that we live on, and give thanks to Māori gods such as Earth Mother, Papatūānuku.
Matariki is also a time for whānau to come together and share kai, reflect on the past year, acknowledge loved-ones who have passed and look to the coming year ahead.
Matariki 2015 will begin on Thursday, 18 June and celebrations are likely to run until the end of the month. This year, several Ngāi Tahu rūnanga, community groups and organisations around Te Waipounamu will be holding different events to celebrate the Māori New Year.
For whānau based in Southland Waihōpai Rūnaka will be hosting whānau at their annual Matariki breakfast at Murihiku Marae, on June 18. The breakfast is expected to start at 7.15am with a karakia, which will then be followed by a kōrero from Te Ao Mārama kaimahi Dean Whaanga and performances from Te Roopu o Murihiku Kapa Haka.
“I’ll be talking about the different stars that we celebrate down here ,mainly puanga and I’ll also be talking about the different ways that people can celebrate Matariki. It’s a time of memory and contemplation,” says Dean.
The Christchurch City Library will be hosting several Matariki events. These include storytelling sessions for tamariki and a family day that will be held at the Christchurch Botanical Gardens on 21 June at 11am. Those who attend the family day will also hear from guest speaker, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu kaimahi Joseph Hullen.
Our whanaunga at Rehua Marae in Christchurch will celebrate Matariki with a whānau day on Saturday, 27 June at 10am-3pm. There will be plenty of activities for people of all ages including Māori mākete (arts and crafts), workshops, wāhanga kai (food stalls), kapa haka performances and guest speakers.
These are just a few of the Te Waipounamu events for Matariki. Ngāi Tahu whānau who are interested in attending an event specific to their rūnanga or area should contact their papatipu rūnanga office to find out more information.