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Matariki

Matariki, the Māori New Year, is typically marked by the rise of the Matariki star cluster and the sighting of the next new moon. Some iwi observe the rise of the lone star Puaka as the beginning of the new year.

In 2020, the Matariki cluster will set on 15 May and return from 13–16 July. The Matariki period is 13–20 July. 

About Matariki

Matariki stars.

Matariki is the Māori name for a group of stars that are also known as the Pleiades star cluster.

The physical appearance of Matariki in the sky was traditionally used by a tohunga (a priest or expert) as a forecast of the year ahead. Clear and bright stars signalled warm and productive seasons, and hazy or shimmering clusters meant a cold winter was coming and ground for crops was prepared accordingly.

Each iwi has their own stories and perspectives about Matariki and celebrate Matariki at different times. Some hold festivities when Matariki is first seen in the dawn sky; others celebrate after the rise of the full moon or at the beginning of the next new moon.

Today Matariki is generally seen as an important time to celebrate the earth and show respect for the land. It is also a time to acknowledge those who have passed away and to plan for the year ahead. 

Matariki is a good opportunity for all New Zealanders to come together with Māori communities to learn their stories, culture, and language.

Curriculum connections 

NZC Curriculum icon.

By celebrating Matariki with your students and the wider community you can bring the NZC principles to life, especially the Treaty of Waitangicommunity engagement, and cultural diversity. Matariki provides an opportunity for students to explore the values of diversity, community and participation, and respect for self and others. Matariki is also a useful context to promote the development of key competencies and to examine the social science concepts of cultural identity, place and environment, and continuity and change.

How can you get involved?

Matariki cover page.

Share stories of Matariki
Share the history and stories of Matariki with your staff and students. This Ready to Read text explains some of the stories and beliefs associated with Matariki and describes some of the ways that Matariki is celebrated. You could explore the Matariki myth of Tamarereti or learn about Matariki and the six sisters, a story told by Ngāti Toa Rangatira. 

Connect with your local iwi and hapū
Grow your connections with local iwi and hapū, and harness their knowledge of Māori language, culture, and identity. Check the ideas and resources in this blog to help you build stronger partnerships with your local mana whenua.  

Engage with your community
Host a breakfast or evening supper for your local community to celebrate Matariki together. Look for Matariki in the dawn or night sky. Encourage your students to get involved in the design and organisation of the event. 

Take care of the environment 
Work with your students and community to plant trees in conservation areas, or start planning your school garden. Alternatively you could organise a clean up of a local area. 

Integrate Matariki with mathematics
Integrate Matariki with mathematics and statistics through these NZ Maths units and activities.

Get involved in events
Research what festivities are being held in your area and get involved.

Instructional series 

Another great way to get your students involved in Matariki is to incorporate it into your reading and writing programme. The Instructional Series offers a range of texts about Matariki. Check them out! 

Matariki, Ready to Read, Level 2, 2010
This report explains some of the stories and beliefs associated with Matariki and describes some of the ways that Matariki is celebrated.

Matariki Breakfast, Ready to Read, shared text, 2017
Matariki Breakfast describes Kara’s experience of celebrating Matariki with her whānau. It includes a retelling of a Tainui story about how the Matariki stars brought back Tama-nui-te-rā (the sun) after Māui and his brothers had caught him.

Lighting the sky with Raspberry Pi, Connected 2018, Level 2 - Step By Step
Students at Fernridge School have created a digital light display for Matariki using Raspberry Pi computers. This article shows how the students created the light display, providing a real-life context for exploring how computers work.

Pages from Celebrating Puanga at Ramanui.

Celebrating Puanga at Ramanui, School Journal Level 2, November 2017
This article describes how one Taranaki school celebrates the appearance of the star Puanga in the eastern sky – the signal for the start of the Māori New Year. In other parts of Aotearoa, people watch for Matariki, but that constellation is hard to see in the Taranaki region.

Useful resources

Matariki booklet (online PDF)
This booklet, created by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, is a guide to Matariki – its origins and significance.

Matariki for schools – New Zealand History
This resource includes a range of approaches and activities to help students learn about Matariki. 

Te Iwa o Matariki
This website by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa explains the appearance of nine stars during Matariki. 

Matariki education resources – Te Papa
These teaching resources aim to raise your students’ awareness of Matariki. 

The story of Matariki – Te Ara
This resource offers the full story of Matariki with images and a short film clip.

Matariki and digital technologies (online PDF) 
This resource provides educators (including parents) with ideas and activities for teaching the New Zealand Curriculum Technology Progress Outcomes using the context of Matariki. The activities can be adapted for use with year 1-8 students.

Matariki – National Library
The National Library has curated a range of teaching and learning resources to help you celebrate Matariki with your students. 

Christchurch City Libraries – Matariki
This page explores the traditions and importance of Matariki with information about resources, crafts, and ways to celebrate in Ōtautahi.

Matariki Animation
This clip is a short Matariki animation prepared for Matariki events.

Matariki star weaving
This clip explains how to weave Matariki stars out of paper strips.

You might like ... 

Rosalie Reiri.

What Matariki means to me
In this blog Rosalie Reiri, education facilitator, talks about the personal significance of Matariki and provides some key messages for teachers.

Do you have a story to share about Matariki?

  • How do you incorporate Matariki in your school curriculum?
  • What Matariki projects have your students been involved in?

We would love to hear from you. Drop us a line at nzcurriculum@tki.org.nz

Updated on: 17 Mar 2020


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