Photo of Matariki star cluster by Arnaud Mariat

Matariki, more than a star: Remember, reflect, and reset

Matariki e rau ana;

He hōmai tau i nga mahara

 Pleiades are gathered together;

 Which gives rise to many thoughts

(Matamua, 2017, p. 66)

Matariki, a celestial sign signalling in the Māori New Year, is a time to reflect on what we have learned, contributed, and are grateful for. This year, New Zealanders throughout Aotearoa will once againcelebrate this event as a public holiday, showing Aotearoa is ready for a deeper bi-cultural conversation. 

Tribal knowledge holder and 2022 Senior New Zealander of the Year, Rereata Makiha, celebrates the rising of Puanga and Rēhua as markers of the new year. But the sentiment for reflection is similar; 

“All the things that weren’t done or accomplished during the previous year, anything that you wasted energy on, you put it to sleep so that it no longer bothers you. That’s the first thing you do before you open up the new year.”  

Matariki is also known by its Greek name the Pleiades. In the Pacific is it known as Mataali’i in Samoan, and Makali’i in Hawaiian. In Japan it is known as the Subaru and is marked by six stars – which are represented on the Subaru car maker’s logo. However, Matariki is not actually a single star but rather a cluster of stars. Different Māori hapū count either seven or nine stars.  

Finally, remember to pause at Matariki to acknowledge those who have passed, and their impact on us. The connection between Matariki and the passing of loved ones is captured in this lament composed by Nawemata for the loss of her husband in battle (Matamua, 2017). 

Tera te whetu e,

Kapohia ana mai,

ka rumaki Matariki.

 There is the star,

 Shining above,

 Setting with Matariki.

(Grey, 2010, p. 346)

Remembrance and reflection are opportunities to also reset goals. A time to remind ourselves that we need not be defined by our past, but by the actions we take now.

Mānawa maiea te putanga o Matariki   Hail the rise of Matariki

(Matamua, 2017, p. xi)

Discover more

Manuhiri Huatahi and Abigail McClutchie, Kaiārahi, Te Tumu Herenga


Grey, G. (2005). Ko ngā Moteatea me nga Hakirara o nga Maori He mea kohikohi mai. New Zealand Electronic Text Centre.

Matamua, R. (2017).  Matariki: The star of the year. Huia.

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