The Stars Align For A Magical Matariki In Tauranga

Published: Wed 5 Jun 2024 01:00 PM
Matariki skies over Mauao. Photo by Alan Ludlam. (Photo Supplied)
Wintertime is upon us, when the days are shorter and the nights are longer. Across Aotearoa skies, the Matariki star cluster is rising again, twinkling at dawn, signalling the arrival of Te Mātahi o te Tau, the Māori New Year.
This year marks Aotearoa New Zealand’s third official celebration of Matariki, with a public holiday taking place on Friday, 28 June 2024. Here in Tauranga and across the Western Bay, we’re ushering in the Māori New Year with a star-studded, month-long event programme kicking off from Saturday, 8 June.
Matariki heralds a time of renewal and celebration and for communities to come together across the motu (country). It is a time of remembrance, gratitude and resetting our goals for the coming year, says Carlo Ellis, Manager of Strategic Māori Engagement at Tauranga City Council.
Matariki Te Tauranga o ngā Waka 2024 has something for everyone, with a wide range of events taking place across the region, including workshops, exhibitions, live performances, family events and more. Matariki celebrations aim to build understanding and enlightenment of Te Ao Māori (Māori world view), mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) and Te Reo Māori (the Māori language).”
This year’s event programme in Tauranga and the Western Bay area embraces the themes Waitī and Waitā (represented in the image above), two of the stars in the Matariki cluster. Waitī signifies fresh water and Waitā saltwater. Both stars represent all living creatures and food sources sustained within their waters.
The arrival of Matariki is a sign for people to gather, remember those who have passed, celebrate the present and new life, and a time to make plans for the future. It’s a time to spend with whānau and friends, enjoy kai (food), waiata (song), tākaro (games) and haka.
“The saying 'Matariki hunga nui' embraces the many people of Matariki. Matariki is underpinned by whakapapa, a sense of connectedness signifying the importance of family and community. It’s a time for all New Zealanders to come together.”
Across the rohe (region) this year, Matariki events include our annual Matariki Maumaharatanga Ceremony at te tihi o Mauao (the summit of Mauao), a day of celebration at Pāpāmoa Library, a Matariki whānau day at the Historic Village, an augmented reality Matariki sculpture trail, exhibitions, performances and more!
“Matariki is about celebrating who we were, who we are, and who we want to be. With each passing year, there is growing recognition of the significance of Matariki and its importance to our country’s cultural identity and heritage. This year we encourage our community to embrace saying ‘happy Matariki’ in Te Reo Māori, which translates as ‘Ngā mihi o Matariki, te tau hou Māori’.”
Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars known to Western astronomers as Pleiades (it’s ancient Greek name). While the Matariki star cluster is comprised of over 300 stars, nine stars are traditionally observed, including Matariki, Tupu-ā-rangi, Tupu-ā-nuku, Ururangi, Waipuna-ā-rangi, Hiwa-i-te-rangi, Waitī, Waitā and Pōhutukawa.
Matariki is typically visible for 11 months of the year, disappearing in the lunar month of May (Haratua/ Mei) to June (Pipiri/Hune) and rising again in eastern skies between June and July (Hōngongoi/Hūrae). Different iwi and rohe (regions) celebrate Matariki at different times, some when the cluster is first seen in the dawn sky, others after the full moon rises or at the beginning of the next new moon. Unlike western New Year, the dates of Matariki change year by year. This is due to Māori measuring time by the moon (Maramataka) where the lunar calendar traditionally has 354-days compared to the 365-day European calendar.
For more information about the 2024 Matariki event series visit the website Copies of the Matariki event booklet will be available from Te Ao Mārama, Tauranga City Libraries.

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