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Matariki – Heralding the Māori New Year tomorrow

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. 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 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 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.,, and ensure that all New Zealanders can enjoy and appreciate Matariki in 2008.

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Updated on 23rd July 2015