Matariki at Massey – celebrating the Māori New Year


The rising of the star cluster known as Matariki (Pleiades) marks the beginning of the Māori New Year. It is a unique celebration that not only celebrates te ao Māori (the Māori world) but Aotearoa New Zealand’s natural cycles. This year Matariki will be celebrated between the June 25 and July 3.

In ancient times, the rising of the Matariki stars marked the time for Māori when food gathering had been completed and it was time to hunker down out of the cold for the months of winter. This allowed time for joining with whānau to feast, to wānanga (learn and discuss) – for entertainments and indoor games (tākaro). It was also a special time of year to reflect on the past and look forward to the future and to honour and farewell those who had died. It was believed that loved ones had transformed into stars – te hunga kua whetūrangitia – shining down from the heavens.

For tohunga (spiritual leaders), the rising of Matariki provided portents of the year ahead. Each star symbolised different aspects of the new year and whether they appeared bright or hazy dictated how the year might unfold.

Today Matariki offers us an opportunity to celebrate our unique culture and natural world. It is a time to reflect in the latency of winter and to celebrate with whānau and friends.

Ideas on how to authentically celebrate Matariki

  • Have a shared lunch with your team or department. Matariki Ahunga Nui – means Matariki the bountiful and feasting is very appropriate.

  • Share some indoor activities with your colleagues or whānau (it is a time for games that challenge the mind as opposed to the physical) The Office of the DVC Māori has a Māori board game Mū Torere available on request or floor versions will be at the Ōtehā and Manawatū Libraries to play during Matariki.

    Image of Māori board game Mū Torere

  • Learn more about Matariki. Check out the library for Matariki resources. The following links also provide authentic kōrero regarding Matariki.
  • Take some time to acknowledge loved ones who have passed.

  • Once the past has been acknowledged, use this time to create goals or resolutions and look towards the future.

Massey Contact Centre Mon - Fri 8:30am to 4:30pm 0800 MASSEY (+64 6 350 5701) TXT 5222 Web chat Staff Alumni News Māori @ Massey