Matariki – The Māori New Year

Around the end of May or early June in New Zealand, the Pleiades cluster of stars can be seen low on the north-eastern horizon just before dawn. This cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters and Pleiades, carries the Māori name, Matariki. The rise of Matariki and the sighting of the next new moon during June/July mark the Māori New Year.

Matariki means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki). Legend tells the story of the sky father (Ranginui) and the earth mother (Papatūānuku), who were separated by their children. Tāwhirimātea, the god of the winds, became so enraged by this that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens.

When is Matariki?

2022 marked the first time Matariki was marked by an official public holiday. The date for all future Matariki celebrations has been agreed to be the Friday closest to the four days of the nights of Tangaroa in the lunar month Piripi. In 2023 the official holiday takes place on 14 July 2023.

How is Matariki celebrated?

Traditionally, Matariki was a time to celebrate new life and remember those who had passed. But there were also celebrations of singing, dancing and feasting thanks to full food storehouses following crop harvesting and the gathering of seafood.

Modern Māori New Year celebrations were revived in the year 2000 and the popularity of events has grown ever since. Now events to welcome the New Year occur throughout New Zealand, celebrating our unique place in the world, showing respect for the beautiful land on which we live and celebrating the diversity of life. It’s a celebration of culture, language, spirit and people.

Matariki information and activities

Matariki in the night sky

Find Matariki in the night sky

Find out more
Matariki activity book Matariki pukapuka mahi

Free Matariki pukapuka mahi / Matariki activity book Matariki pukapuka mahi from Te Papa Tongarewa

Download in English
Download in te reo Māori
Matariki - colouring page

Learn and colour the Matariki stars

Click here to download
Make an 8 point star

Learn to weave an 8 point star

Find out how
The legend of Matariki and the six sisters

One legend is that the star Matariki is the whaea surrounded by her 6 daughters.

Learn the legend
Make a woven star for Matariki.

Learn how to make a woven star with Maatakiwi

Click here to download

Kai (food) for celebrating Matariki

You may not have the resources for a traditional hangi at home but you can still enjoy some traditional foods like seafood, fish and kumara.

pork stew

Slow cooked pork and sweet potato stew

This slightly spicy, somewhat sweet slow cooker stew is delicious served with simple steamed beans ...
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lamb

Lamb, sweet potato and tomato pie

This is a beautiful make-ahead dinner and a nice change from traditional shepherd's pie-style recipes ...
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mussels

Tomato and chilli mussels with sourdough garlic bread

These tomato and chilli mussels make an easy meal for a relaxed Saturday night with ...
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Matariki events across the motu

Tāmaki Makaurau

Tāmaki Makaurau – Auckland

Find out more
Te Tau Hou Māori | The Māori New Year

Te – Whanganui-a-tara – Wellington

Find out more
Christchurch Matariki

Ōtautahi – Christchurch

Find out more

Written by Kidspot NZ

Do you have any family traditions for celebrating Matariki?

5 Comments

  1. kymmage 29/06/2018 at 7:38 am

    I love the Matariki celebrations they have via daycares and schools now. My daughters come home with beautiful star related art. Last year they made star cookies in class. Another year they had a hangi (at daycare), that parents could come along to as well. I think our community has a kite making/flying event that happens around that time too. It’s great to have a cultural focus, and a way to learn more 🙂

  2. Bevik1971 27/06/2018 at 2:16 pm

    We had a Matariki event at my daughter’s school, it was really cool. They planted a tree for a teacher who had passed away at the end of last year then had some shared Kai and hung out,was really nice. The local Astrology Association was going to come with telescopes for the kids to do some night gazing, but it was too cloudy in the end. Still a great night 🙂

  3. Mands1980 26/06/2018 at 1:11 pm

    When my children were at Playcentre we always celebrated matariki and did baking related to matariki. Our local school also one year did looking at the stars at matariki and showed them what to look for in the sky the kids enjoyed this.

  4. MuddledUpMolly 25/06/2018 at 9:14 pm

    It is exciting to see our country starting to more meaningfully embrace Maori culture and include everyone in the process 🙂 Our little girl has a matariki celebration at her preschool on Friday which we are all looking forward to 🙂

  5. Shorrty4life1 25/06/2018 at 5:50 pm

    We had a matariki celebration night at the kindergarten with pizza, popcorn and ice-creams for tea the kids choice of food of course. They did lots of cool lighting and the kids went for a walk outside with home made lanterns they made at kindy when it got dark. They also had their Matua come and they sung songs and danced. It was an awesome celebration and the children really enjoyed it.

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