Matariki is the Māori name for the small cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, in the Taurus constellation. It rises just once a year and in 2008 three Ministry for Culture and Heritage websites will guide New Zealanders through this special time of the year.
www.TeAra.govt.nz paints a full picture of both the night sky and the mythology of Matariki which literally means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki):
Te Ara describes the legends, significance to traditional harvests and the modern revival of Matariki. Images range from sky-maps depicting the Matariki constellation and the star Puanga to pātaka (storehouses). Videos show the Tauranga Moana tribe’s Matariki celebrations and Pou Temara of Ngāi Tuhoe relates a legend of the formation of the Matariki star cluster.
5 June heralds the Māori New Year in 2008. A search for ‘Matariki’ at www.NZLive.com has a full constellation of over 70 events. Te Papa has a dazzling three-week festival of entertainment from 6-29 June; Matariki themed artwork and craftwork displays are on show all over the country and there are talks, films, fashion shows and food festivals from Kaitaia’s Matariki Muriwhenua 2008 - The Eleventh Hour to Invercargill’s Matariki Fundraiser Ball.
Matariki is also a fascinating time of year for students and www.NZHistory.net.nz has a range of classroom activities directed at level 4 and 5 social studies classes: . These include topics on measuring time in different cultures and a debate on whether Matariki should be a public holiday.
Updated on 23rd July 2015