Matariki celebrates the Matariki (Pleiades) star cluster’s annual first rising, marking the beginning of the Māori New Year. This Matariki will be remarkable as it will be celebrated as a public holiday for the first time in history!
Matariki is a time of togetherness where family and friends traditionally acknowledge the deceased, releasing their spirits up towards the stars, while also reflecting on and thanking the gods for their harvest and feasts. Nowadays, it is a celebration to reconnect with your family, have a meal together, and share hopes and wishes for the future while taking a moment to reflect on the past year.
It is a beautiful holiday and opportunity for children to learn about Māori culture and identity through stories and activities from the indigenous legend.
Fun Fact: Matariki is a shortened version of 'Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea’, which translate to 'The eyes of the god Tāwhirimātea’
Te Iwa o Matariki (the nine stars of the Matariki) was created when Tāwhirimātea (God of weather and winds) ripped out his eyes, crushed them, and threw them into the sky to create the nine stars in the Matariki star cluster.
Each of the stars symbolizes values that we (and our children) can reflect on and be thankful for:
Matariki is the mother of the other stars that signifies reflection, hope, and our connection to the environment.
Pōhutukawa represents the dead and our valued memories and connection to them as they pass on and watch over us.
Tupuānuku symbolizes all the food grown from the ground, such as plants and crops that people grow and prepare.
Tupuārangi depicts all that grows above us – birds that soar above and fruit and berries that hang over our heads.
Waitī represents all the food sources that come from fresh water and rivers.
Waitā is all the food sources from salt water and expansive ocean bodies.
Waipunarangi is associated with rain, allowing the land to grow and the people to thrive.
Ururangi symbolizes the winds that refresh us with their serene breeze.
Hiwaiterangi/Hiwa is the final star that represents good fortune and opportunities. People send their wishes to this star in hopes of a favourable future.
We believe it is our duty to support and encourage development within our very own shining stars at our early education centres – that’s right, our children! By teaching them about Te Iwa o Matariki, children can connect to the Māori culture and acknowledge the gratitude in their very own lives.
Apart from our services, we at Utopia Education also pride ourselves on being a platform that shares resources, teaching ideas, and activities for centres and teachers to explore.
There are countless beneficial resources in our latest ‘U Mat-Time’ about Māori culture – including new words, entertaining activities, inspirational videos, and much more! All to help children learn about the significant meaning and ideology of our country’s cultural philosophy and lifestyle.
It is through these activities and experiences that our children can build their connection to the culture!