What is Matariki? Ideas and Festivals for 2019

What does Matariki mean?

Māori use the name Matariki to describe the entire cluster of stars known in astronomy as Pleiades. According to a manuscript of Māori astronomical knowledge compiled by Rāwiri Te Kōkau, the genealogy shows Matariki and her eight children as noted below. The different names of the stars in the Matariki group are significant for Māori, as each individual has a defined purpose and is intrinsically connected with Te Ao Māori, the Māori world, as follows:

  1. Matariki: Signifies reflection, hope and our connection to the environment
  2. Pōhutukawa: Connects with people who have passed on
  3. Waitī: Fresh bodies of water and the food within it
  4. Waitā: The ocean and the food in it
  5. Waipuna-ā-rangi: Associated with raining
  6. Tupuānuku: Food that grows within the soil
  7. Tupuārangi: Food that grows on trees
  8. Ururangi: Associated with wind
  9. Hiwa-i-te-rangi: The wishing star that also ties into our aspirations for the coming year

Reference: Matariki The Star of the Year by Rangi Matamua

So how do we celebrate it presently? See below for some ideas, activities and festivals that happen to celebrate Matariki 2019, the Māori New Year!

Matariki ideas (related to each of the Matariki stars):

  1. Matariki: Sleep Under the Stars – reflect and connect to the environment. You can do this in your backyard!
  2. Pōhutukawa: Tree Planting – signifying remembrance. Click here to search for Matariki Tree Planting.
  3. Waitī: Visit your local stream, river or lake – Understand its source and the ecosystem in it.
  4. Waitā: Mid-winter swim – Connect with Tangaroa, the atua of the sea and fish.
  5. Waipuna-ā-rangi: Singing in the rain – Blast out your favourite waiata on the next rainy day.
  6. Tupuānuku: Celebrate with a whanau feast -Whether it’s a hangi or Sunday roast, enjoy the company of family and friends.
  7. Tupuārangi: Support your kids sport team -Take along some mandarins or orange slices.
  8. Ururangi: Make your own kite – So you can fly it in to the heavens
  9. Hiwa-i-te-rangi: Create some New Year’s resolutions

Matariki Activities/Festivals:    


  • The Matariki Festival Make sure to see: Matariki Dawn, June 29th 6am-8am. Learn about the stars at the Planetarium while sharing a hot drink and bbq breakfast.


  • Matariki Puanga 2019: Hosted by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to remember those that have passed and to celebrate our new year together June 27th.
  • The Matariki Festival 2019: There are a LOT of things you can do. Check out Touch Compass: InMotion Matariki 18th of July (pictured below). If you are in a wheelchair remember to decorate your wheels to the theme of Matariki!


  • Matariki Tauranga Moana 2019: For exhibitions, workshops and more!


  • Matariki Waikato: Celebrate Matariki Day on June 30th with Matariki-themed displays, spot prizes and presentations about Matariki.


  • Matariki Rotorua: Parades to crafts, talks to talent quests – Rotorua has got it all!


  • Matariki Breaki: Free Kai will be given as we reflect on the past, celebrate the present, and plan for the future.


  • Matariki at Pukaha: This is an event to go to as everything is included: Weaving, uku making (traditional clay flute), storytelling, a hangi dinner (with a steamed pudding dessert!) and you can enjoy a night tour into the forest to give visitors the chance to better understand the relationship between the stars and the forest.


  • Matariki ki Pōneke 2019: A festival of activities put on by Wellington City Council. Must see: Ahi Kā – Matariki ki Poneke: The nation’s finest Māori performers and storytellers with Hangi, toasted marshmallows, and even fire on the water – if you want to know what that is click the link above!


  • Te Matatiki Toi Ora: The Arts Centre has a whole series of events lined up for Christchurch this year, including Bic Runga – Live in the Great Hall, 5 July 2019.


  • Puaka Matariki Festival: There are many things to do for Matariki 2019; including weaving workshops, exhibitions and even some learning in the Dark!

There are marea (many) ways to celebrate Matariki 2019. But whatever you do, ensure that you are living your best life.