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  • Writer's pictureSarah Brosnahan

Mānawatia a Matariki

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

A time to gather, a time to feast and a time to give thanks for the abundance of kai and the environment from which it is grown.

Matariki is the Māori lunar New Year and is represented by a cluster of 9 stars referred to as the Matariki cluster.

Each star represents a different part of our environment and well-being.

  • Matariki - is connected to health and well-being and is a sign of good fortune for the year to come.

  • Pōhutukawa - is connected to those who have passed away in the past year.

  • Tupuānuku - represents food grown in the ground.

  • Tupuārangi - represents food that comes from above the ground or the sky. Like plants and birds.

  • Waitī - represents freshwater kai.

  • Waitā - represents kai from the ocean.

  • Waipuna-ā-Rangi - represents the rain.

  • Ururangi - represents the wind.

  • Hiwa-i-te-Rangi - known as the wishing star is believed to be connected with prosperity for the year ahead.

Traditionally, Matariki is a time to give thanks for the abundance of food and nature from which it came, to honour those who had passed and to gather together, share a meal and celebrate all that is yet to come.

Kai for Matariki is representative of the stars Tipuānuku (kai grown in the ground), Tipuārangi (kai grown above the ground which can include birds), Waitī (kai that comes from freshwater), Waitā (kai that comes from the ocean).

Before dawn on Matariki, a ceremony known as Hautapu takes place, which means to “feed the stars a sacred offering”. The first stage of the ceremony is to observe the stars and from this, predictions would be made as to the productivity of the coming year. Secondly, the names of those who have passed would be called out and honoured. And finally, the kai would be prepared in a special ceremonial oven called ‘te umu kohukohu whetū’, ‘the steaming earth oven of the stars’. Just before dawn and once the name of those who have passed are called, the earth oven is uncovered and the steam from this rises up to the sky. Food is shared as the sun rises, signifying the opening of Māori New Year.

Weaving the traditions of Hautapu into our own celebrations can be a great way to honour Matariki with your whānau and friends.


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