Photo of Matariki star cluster by Arnaud Mariat

Whakanuia ā Matariki: Celebrating Matariki at Te Tumu Herenga

Ko Matariki kei runga, ko te tohu tēnā o te tau hou!
When Matariki rises, that is the sign of the new year.

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter and heralds the start of a new year.

The word Matariki literally means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki). It’s rising is predicted using the maramataka Māori, the Māori lunar calendar.

According to Dr Rangi Mataamua, there are nine stars in the constellation of Matariki and each star holds a certain significance over our wellbeing and environment. The nine visible stars include: Matariki, Tupuārangi, Waipuna-ā-Rangi, Waitī, Tupuānuku, Ururangi, Waitā, Pōhutukawa and Hiwa-i-te-Rangi.

Join us in the Matariki festivities by enjoying the resources we have curated. When you’re done, test your knowledge by trying out our crossword. Clues to all the answers are hidden in the text.

Te Iwa o Matariki

Books and Publications

Special Collections

Visit the Reading Room to see a drawing of the Atkinson Observatory refractory telescope.
Situated in Nelson, this special telescope was in service for over 100 years and recorded many important moments in astronomical history.


The archive of Māori and Pacific Sound has a number of waiata tangi (lament) for you to listen to:

  • Tērā Matariki huihui ana mai. Ka ngaro rā e te whetū kukume ata composed by Mere Reweti Taingunguru of Te Whānau-a-Apanui refers to Matariki, the star that hauls forth the dawn. Listen to the waiata.
  • E hika hoki e kuika nei. He matua ia rā e tahuri mai” composed by Mihikitekapua of Ngāti Ruapani and Tūhoe mentions Matariki as a time of reflection for those we have lost. Listen to the waiata.

English translations of these waiata (numbers 110 and 225 respectively) can be found in the book Ngā Mōteatea Part II by Apirana Ngata and Pei te Hurinui.

Documentaries, Film and Podcasts

  • Learn about the Māori practices of navigating by the stars of Māori in the documentary Matariki Tatai Arorangi.
  • In the film Matariki, a random act of violence leaves eight people in crisis, searching for hope as the constellation Matariki rises in the Southern skies. Watch the film.
  • Tune into episode 150 of the podcast Taringa, for a kōrero on the recent revitalisation of tikanga Matariki and how you can do a hautapu ceremony at home. Listen to the podcast.

Matariki gives us the opportunity to review and reset resolutions we may have made earlier in the year. It is also the perfect time to plan a mid-winter celebration.

Nō reira, ngā mihi o te tau hou Māori ki a tātou katoa. Happy Matariki.

Compiled by Te Tumu Herenga’s Te Pou Rāhui group

Image credit: Arnaud Mariat @ unsplash