Matariki is a time for remembrance, celebrating the present and looking to the future.

Matariki hunga nui
Matariki Ahunga nui
Matariki Manako Nui
Large yellow star representing Matariki Hunga Nui star

Matariki Hunga Nui

Matariki Hunga Nui means the many people of Matariki. It speaks to how Matariki calls people to gather together to remember and honour those we have lost since the last rising of Matariki.

The reappearance of Matariki in the morning sky during mid-winter coincided with a traditional ceremony called ‘whāngai i te hautapu.’ During this ceremony food was cooked and offered to the different stars of Matariki while karakia (incantations) were conducted.

The first part of this ceremony was dedicated to the dead and honouring those who had passed since the last rising of Matariki. The names of the dead were called out during the ceremony and people would weep for their loved ones. Matariki is said to carry the dead across the night sky throughout the year, and when the names of deceased are called out, Māori believe the spirits of the dead become stars in the sky.

Large grey star representing Matariki Ahunga Nui

Matariki Ahunga Nui

Matariki Ahunga Nui talks to the great food piles of Matariki. Communities and whānau would gather to give thanks for all the blessings of the past year, and reconnect with one another. Food and feasting are central elements in Matariki, and people would share the fruits of the harvest. Other forms of celebration included music, dance, art and spending time together.

Large yellow star representing Matariki Manako Nui

Matariki Manako Nui

Matariki Manako Nui refers to wishes and desires. Māori would send their hopes and dreams into the stars during Matariki. This was a period for learning, sharing, discussion and decision making. One of the key points of discussion during Matariki was the environment, especially the health of the environment. Many wishes of the ancestors were connected to wellbeing of people and the environment. Māori understood that lives depended on maintaining a strong connection to the physical world and caring for nature.