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15 Jun 2023


Learn more about Matariki and discover some exciting celebrations you can join, all around the country!

Ngā mata o te ariki Tāwhirimātea (Matariki) is the name of a group of stars, whose appearance in the winter night sky marks the traditional beginning of the Māori new year. This year, it falls on Friday 14 July.

The theme for 2023 is Matariki Kāinga Hokia (Matariki calls you home). People are encouraged to journey back home and celebrate, feast and be with whānau and friends.

What is Matariki?

Matariki is a star cluster, also known as Pleiades. Generally, nine stars are included, although different people include 6, 7, 9 or even 12 stars. In Aotearoa, the star cluster is usually visible in the sky for most of the year, however it sets at the beginning of our cold months.

When it rises back over the horizon during the months of June and July it is considered the beginning of the new year in Māori tradition.

Different iwi use different stars as markers that tell them when they should celebrate the New Year. Some iwi use Puanga some Rehua while others use Atutahi.

He aha a Matariki?

He kāhui whetū a Matariki, e mōhiotia ana hoki ko Pleiades. Ko tōna tikanga, e iwa ngā whetū ka tatauria, engari ki tā ētahi e 6, e 7, e 9, ka 12 rānei ngā whetū.   I Aotearoa, kitea ai a Matariki i te rangi mō te roanga o te tau, heoi anō, ka tō ai ia i te tīmatanga o ō tātou marama makariri.

Ka rewa anō ia ki te tahatū o te rangi i te marama o Hune, o Hūrae rānei, e kīia ana ko te tīmatanga o te tau hou tēnei e ai ki ngā tikanga tuku iho a te Māori.

Ki tēnā iwi, ki tēnā iwi, ka rerekē te whetū hei tohu i te wā kia whakanuia ai e rātou te Mātahi o te Tau. Ki ētahi iwi ko Puanga, ki ētahi ko Rehua, ki ētahi anō ko Atutahi.

How is Matariki celebrated?

Matariki is about remembering those who have passed on, giving thanks for our blessings, preparing for the year ahead, and higher learning. Traditionally, Matariki was celebrated with ceremonies, feasts and games.

Today you can celebrate Matariki at a number of exciting festivals around the country. Or why not plan your own special event, like a shared feast with whānau and friends to toast loved ones and reflect on endings and beginnings.

He pēhea te whakanui i a Matariki?

Ko Matariki te wā hei whakahokinga maumahara ki a rātou mā kua riro atu, hei tuku whakawhetai mō ngā whakamānawa, hei whakarite mō te tau, hei wā wānanga anō hoki. I ngā rā o mua, ka whakanuia a Matariki ki ngā kawa taketake, ki te hākari me ngā kēmu.

I ēnei rā ka whai wāhi koe ki te whakanui i a Matariki ki te maha tonu o ngā taiopenga whakaihiihi puta noa i te motu. Ka pēhea rānei te whakarite i tō ake hui motuhake, pērā i te hākari tahi ki te taha o te whānau me ō hoa hei tōhi i ngā taupuhi o te manawa, me te huritao ki ngā whakamutunga me ngā tīmatanga hoki.

How do I say Happy New Year for the Māori New Year?

“Mānawatia a Matariki”

Me pēhea taku mihi i te Mātahi o te Tau mō te Tau Hou Māori?

“Mānawatia a Matariki”

Where in the sky is Matariki?

To find Matariki, look for the three stars of Tautoru (Orion's Belt). Left of these stars you will see a triangular set of stars called Te Kokotā. Just left of Te Kokotā you will see the cluster of stars known as Matariki.

Kei hea a Matariki i te rangi?

Kia kitea rā a Matariki, kimihia ngā whetū e toru o Tautoru (Te Tatua o Orion). Kei te taha mauī o ēnei whetū ka kitea he kāhui whetū e tapatoru ana te āhua e kīia nei ko Te Kokotā. Ka paku whakatemauī anō te titiro, ka kite koe i te kāhui whetū e mōhiotia ana ko Matariki.

What does each star in the cluster represent?

Matariki (f) is connected to health and wellbeing. This star is mother to the other stars in the cluster.

Pōhutukawa (f) is connected to those who have passed on, in particular those that have passed since the last rising of Matariki.

Tupuānuku (f) is connected to food grown in the ground.

Tupuārangi (m) is connected to food from the trees and sky.

Waitī (f) is connected to fresh water bodies and food sources.

Waitā (m) is connected to the ocean and salt water foods.

Waipunarangi (f) is connected to rain.

Ururangi (m) is connected to winds.

Hiwa-i-te-rangi (f) is connected to your dreams and aspirations for the year ahead.

E tohu ana ia whetū o te kāhui i te aha?

Ko Matariki (w) e hono ana ki te hauora me te oranga. Ko tēnei whetū te whaea o te kāhui whetū.

Ko Pōhutukawa (w) e hono ana ki te hunga mate, otirā, ko rātou mā kua riro atu mai i te rewanga whakamutunga o Matariki.

Ko Tupuānuku (w) e hono ana ki ngā kai e tipu ana i te whenua.

Ko Tupuārangi (t) e hono ana ki te kai e ahu mai ana i te rākau me te rangi.

Ko Waitī (w) e hono ana ki te wai māori me ana kai.

Ko Waitā (t) e hono ana ki te moana me ana kai.

Ko Waipunarangi (w) e hono ana ki te ua.

Ko Ururangi (t) e hono ana ki ngā hau.

Ko Hiwa-i-te-rangi (w) e hono ana ki ō wawata me ō awhero mō te tau e tū mai ana.

Matariki around the world

The Matariki star cluster is known by many names. Its Greek name is Pleiades, and it’s also known in western astronomy as ‘Messier 45’. In Hawai’i it’s called “Makali’l – eyes of the king”. In Denmark it’s known as “the evening hen”, and in South Africa its name means “the stars of rain”. In Japan it’s known as Subaru, which means “gathered together” (and is also the name of the car brand with a group of stars as its logo!)

Mahika Kai

Part of the series Ngao Matariki - Ka Tīaho, Ka Tūmanako (2021)

Created by Ariki Creative: Te Aotahi Rice Edwards, Eli Taueki and Hori Te Ariki Mataki, and Art Fetiche

Currently on display in the plaza at Christchurch Airport 

In traditional Māori carving a toki (adze) is used to carve through wood or stone. Ngao Matariki - Ka Tīaho, Ka Tūmanako utilises light cutting through the dark revealing tohu (symbols) of Puaka Matariki.

One of a collection of six light artworks, this cube depicts an abundance of tuna (eels), a staple food found in the rivers and streams of Ōtautahi (Christchurch) and Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū (Banks Peninsula). Tuna were heavily relied upon by Kāi Tahu tūpuna (ancestors), as a source of kai (food), with significant events scheduled around the harvesting.

For Kāi Tahu, it is critical to care for these natural resources to allow people to continue gathering kai in the way tūpuna did, and in doing so enabling manaakitaka - the ability to welcome and host visitors by providing bountiful produce as a demonstration of hospitality and respect.

Visit the other artworks in this series at Tīrama Mai.

Celebrations around Aotearoa

Here’s a quick rundown of some places, activities, and festivals you can join to celebrate Matariki this year. 

Kaikōura: Kaikōura District Council together with Hapuku School are hosting a community breakfast and dawn viewing on 20 July.

Ōtautahi Christchurch: Tīrama Mai will brighten up Ōtautahi from 7 – 15 July. This free festival will showcase the city’s landmarks in a new light, transforming the CBD with all-new installations and illuminated artworks created by some of the country’s best lighting artists and creative minds.

Ōtepoti Dunedin: In a dawn ceremony on 14 July to celebrate te tau hou Māori that features karakia, waiata, and kapa haka, the city remembers those who the community has lost in the past year by projecting their photographs onto the Tūhura Otago Museum building. Find out more and share your photo here.

Ōtepoti Dunedin: Join Dunedin Symphony Orchestra for Celebrating Matariki - Whakanuia Matariki, 22 - 23 July, featuring some of Aotearoa’s outstanding composers and performers.

Pēwhairangi Bay of Islands: The Matariki Pēwhairangi Bay of Islands festival runs from 30 June – 22 July, and features over 20 free and ticketed events including story-telling, cultural experiences, feasts, vineyard tours, music, family fun and of course, stargazing!

Pōneke Wellington: Matariki ki Pōneke runs across four evenings from 13 – 16 July. Bring your whānau down to the waterfront to discover Ahi Kā, an immersive experience of projections, performances, fire and light; plus fireworks and yummy kai from food trucks on the Friday.

Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland: Head to the Hōro ā-Tāone o Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland Town Hall for Matariki Festival Day, 14 July. A free, family-friendly festival day including waiata, kapa haka, kiriata (movies), Māori gaming experts, indigenous craft and kai, Māori designers and Māori food trucks.

Waitaha Canterbury: Join the Mt Hutt team on 14 July for a hot pool, star gazing and ski session to celebrate Matariki. 

Wānaka: Kahu Youth's Matariki on 14 July is a free family event, perfect for warming up on a cold winter night. Enjoy a huge community hangi, performances and free activities. 


Professor Rangi Matamua -

Manatū Taonga - Ministry for Culture & Heritage -


Christchurch City Council

Dark Sky Project