Matariki is an abbreviation of ‘Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea’ (‘The Eyes of the God Tāwhirimātea’) and refers to a large cluster of stars, also known as the Pleiades. It is also an important time in the Pacific, which has significant associations with Matariki.
The predawn rising of Matariki in the mid-winter sky marks the changing of the seasons and the beginning of the Māori New Year. Some iwi recognise this time of year by the appearance of Puanga, also known as Rigel. There are also regions where the setting of Rehua, also known as Antares, is used to identify the change of seasons.
It is often used as a time for:
- Remembrance – honouring those we have lost since the last rising of Matariki
- Celebrating the present – gathering together to give thanks for what we have
- Looking to the future – looking forward to the promise of a new year