Ways to celebrate Matariki with your whānau

Matariki, also known as Māori New Year, is a time for celebration, growth and renewal. It’s a chance to get together and remember whānau who have died, share food, tell stories, sing and play music.

Matariki is the Māori name for the group of stars also known as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. It's visible to the naked eye at a specific time during the year.

The Matariki star cluster rises in mid-winter, ushering in the Māori New Year. This is a time to celebrate the unique places we live in, show respect for the land we live on, and to share and grow together through traditions that continue each year.

For the first time ever, Aotearoa New Zealand will celebrate Matariki with a public holiday on Friday 24 June 2022. 

Here are some ways to celebrate Matariki with your whānau.

1. Take time to reflect

Take some time to remember loved ones who have passed away. You can do this by reflecting on past events, sharing stories and memories with your whānau, visiting their final resting places, lighting a candle, talking with friends and whānau or writing down your hopes and dreams for the year ahead.

2. Practise your te reo Māori

Say ‘happy Matariki’ in te reo Māori by saying Ngā mihi o Matariki, te tau hou Māori’.

3. Get crafty

Get the kids together and make Matariki star bunting or a kite. A special feature of Matariki celebrations is the flying of kites “as they flutter close to the stars”. Or you could make and play a traditional Māori game such as Mū Tōrere, make some poi and learn to use them in song and dance.

4. Attend a local event

There are lots of Matariki festivals and celebrations happening around the country such as storytelling, kite-making, performances and exhibitions. See what’s happening in your local region or run your own event, it could just be with your wider whānau and friends.

5. Get cooking

Matariki is traditionally a time to get together to share kai harvested from past seasons. Cook a mid-winter feast for friends and whānau using traditional Māori vegetables such as kumara, kamo kamo, taro, puha and uwhi. There are many other delicious foods you could cook as well.

6. Do some stargazing

Pop outside one evening and see if you can see the Matariki star cluster. This helpful video shows you how to find Matariki by using other stars and constellations to point the way. Want a fun way to remember all the stars of Matariki? Check out this TikTok from Hahana_official.

7. Find out more about Matariki

Research Matariki as a family. See the links at the end of this page for good places to look. You can also do this quiz from Te Papa: How much do you know about Matariki and the Maramataka?

8. Get creative

Get your kids involved in making a project about Matariki. It could be something like a poster or a presentation. Here's an image of the Matariki group of stars for inspiration. Image credit: Wikimedia

The nine stars of the Matariki cluster

Matariki – Reflection, hope, and the connection, health, and wellbeing of people and our taiao.
Pōhutukawa – Those that have passed on since Matariki last rose.
Waitī – All freshwater bodies and the kai sources that are sustained by those wai Māori.
Waitā – The moana, and kai sources within it.
Waipuna-ā-Rangi – Association with rain.
Tupu-ā-Nuku – Everything that grows within the soil to be harvested or gathered for kai.
Tupu-ā-Rangi – Everything that grows up in the trees: fruits, berries, and birds.
Ururangi – Connection to the winds.
Hiwa-i-te-Rangi – Granting our wishes and realising our aspirations for the coming year.

Learn more

Matariki Public Holiday 2022 Employment NZ  
Matariki Festival 2022 Matariki Festival, NZ
Ways to celebrate Matariki with your family Heart Foundation, NZ
Matariki – the Māori new year  Te Papa, NZ
Matariki Massey University, NZ

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.