Hero photograph
Photo by Libby Avery

When is Matariki and what do the Matariki stars represent?

Ms Libby Avery —

Matariki sets this year on Thursday 7 June and raises between Friday 6 and Monday 9 July. The Matariki period is 6 - 13 July. We are often asked what the stars represent so below is a quick guide.

Waitī watches over our freshwater environments. Our awa (rivers), roto (lakes), kūkūwai (wetlands), and waipuna (springs) - to name just a few. As the waters flow, she sees how they support us, provide for us, connect us, and sustain us. Waitī has heard the important stories that our waters have to tell. She encourages us to listen, and to learn from them as well.

Waitā surveys our vast oceans, Te Moana-nui-o-Kiwa (Pacific Ocean) and Te Tai-o-Rehua (Tasman Sea). The variety of life in these waters is so diverse that he finds he is still discovering different species of rimurimu (seaweed), whāngote o te moana (marine mammals), kaiwhao (molluscs), manu (birds) and ika (fish) - even after all of this time. Biodiversity is so essential to our world. Our actions must support it, and better still, enhance it. Waitā encourages us to respect our coasts and oceans,and treat their inhabitants as the precious taonga (treasures) they are.

Waipuna-ā-rangi welcomes the winter sky waters in all their forms - ua (rain) ua nganga (hail) and hukarere (snow) included. She sees how these waters contribute to the healthy cycle of our earth, and also, the effects when they do not arrive as required. Waipuna-ā-rangi encourages us to reflect about climate change, and what we can do today to lessen the problem.

Tupu-ā-rangi has long looked out for the ngahere (forests), and he is deeply concerned by the collapse he is witnessing. Our native wildlife – manu (birds and bats), mokomoko (lizards), and ngārara (bugs) – are being ravaged by introduced pests and predators. As are our ancient rākau (trees) – like tōtara, pūriri, pōhutukawa and rātā. Tupu-ā-rangi encourages us to take action to help to bring our forests back to life again.

Tupu-ā-nuku has a special interest in our edible plants. This includes the natives pūhā (sowthistle), kawakawa (pepper tree), kōkihi (NZ spinach), and tī kōuka (cabbage tree). In watching the preparations for their growth and harvest, she has come to understand the importance of healthy soil. Tupu-ā-nuku encourages us to consider more carefully what we are putting into Papatūānuku (the earth), and in what quantities.

Ururangi is close friends with te whānau puhi (wind family) – including Hauraro  (north wind), Tonga (south wind), Hauāuru (west wind), and Marangai (east wind). She encourages us to get to know this family well, embrace its strength and prepare for any challenges it creates.

Pōhutukawa holds tight to our memories of treasured people who have passed on. She encourages us to take time to remember them, and to acknowledge their impact on our lives.

Hiwai-i-te-rangi is a wishing star, who helps us to recognise our hopes, dreams and aspirations for the coming year. She encourages us to hold firm to our goals, and seek out opportunities to see them realised.

Matariki loves to gather the people together, and to connect them with our environment. She encourages us to do the same, as often as possible.