Celebrate the Māori New Year with Joyous Festivities

Celebrating Matariki: Embracing the M?ori New Year with Your Family

Welcome, curious parents and caring guardians! Are you ready to plunge into the radiant world of Matariki and share the beauty of the M?ori New Year with your loved ones? Let’s embark on a delightful journey to understand, appreciate, and cherish an event that is not only significant in Aotearoa New Zealand but is also steeped in rich culture, connecting us to the stars above and the earth we walk on. Buckle up, because this is going to be an exciting ride filled with stars, smiles, and shared memories. ?

What is Matariki?

Before we jump into the how-tos and whys, let’s understand the what. Matariki, known to many as the M?ori New Year, marks the rising of the Matariki star cluster – also known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. This celestial event signifies a time of reflection, remembrance, and renewal for many M?ori communities. It’s like a fresh chapter in the book of life, painted with the twinkling brushes of stars.

When is Matariki?

Matariki’s timing can vary from year to year, as it is determined by the lunar calendar. The rising of the Matariki constellation generally occurs in the cold, crisp mid-winter – the perfect time for huddling close and sharing tales. Ensuring you’re in sync with the local iwi (tribes) and their specific observations is key to aligning with the true spirit of the occasion.

Understanding Matariki and its Stars

Each of Matariki’s stars holds a particular significance, representing various aspects of the natural world and our lives. Learning about them can add layers of meaning to your family’s celebration.

  • Tupu?nuku – Connected to everything that grows within the soil, ready to be harvested.
  • Tupu?rangi – Associated with everything that comes from the sky, such as birds and fruits.
  • Wait? – Tied to fresh water and the creatures that dwell in rivers, lakes, and streams.
  • Wait? – Linked to the ocean and the bountiful food sources it provides.
  • Waipunarangi – A reminder of the rain that replenishes our water sources.
  • Ururangi – Represents the winds that sweep across the land.
  • Matariki – Often seen as the mothering star, watching over the others.

How to Celebrate Matariki with Your Family

Now, you might wonder, “How can I introduce this cultural gem to my family?” Here are some heartwarming ways to embrace and celebrate Matariki with your children:

Gaze at the Stars

Start with the starry canvas above! Find a clear night during the Matariki period, wrap up warm, and journey out to a vantage point away from the city lights. Gazing up at the Matariki stars can be not just a learning opportunity, but also a chance to contemplate and feel connected to the universe. Make a game out of who can spot the Matariki cluster first!

Share Stories and Memories

Matariki is an excellent moment for storytelling. Share stories about your ancestors, heroes of M?ori myths, or even family tales passed down through generations. Each story is like a thread, weaving the tapestry of your family’s history. Find storybooks or resources that can help you convey these narratives with the respect and honor they deserve.

Set Goals and Intentions

Embrace the theme of new beginnings by setting goals or making wish-lists with your kids. What do they hope to achieve in the coming year? What dreams do they want to pursue? Write these down on paper and hang them up, so the stars of Matariki can symbolically guide their aspirations.

Understanding and participating in Matariki offers a profound way to intertwine cultural significance with family bonding time. As you plan for the celebration, stay tuned for more insights and activities that will enrich your family’s experience of the M?ori New Year.

Remember, celebrating Matariki doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s the togetherness, the shared learning, and the joy that count. So let’s continue to weave the warmth of our collective experiences into the tapestry of Matariki, creating memories that twinkle as brightly as the stars themselves!

māori new year

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Five Things Parents Should Know in Preparing for the M?ori New Year – Matariki

1. Discovering the Timing of Matariki

First and foremost, understand that unlike Western New Year that falls on January 1st, Matariki’s dates change every year. It’s crucial to keep an eye out for local announcements or consult with local iwi to know when Matariki will be observed in your area. Marking this correctly on your family calendar will ensure your celebrations are in harmony with the actual astronomical event and community practices.

2. Engaging in Cultural Education

Familiarize your family with the traditions and significance behind Matariki. This can involve reading books, visiting local museums, or attending workshops about M?ori culture. Knowledge about the star cluster and its cultural importance will infuse your celebration with depth and authenticity. This may also include learning some M?ori language phrases related to the celebration!

3. Planning Themed Activities and Meals

Plan activities that resonate with the values of Matariki, like planting native trees or preparing a special meal featuring traditional M?ori foods. Such activities are not only educational, but they’re also practical ways to participate in the cultural aspects of Matariki. Gardening connects you to the earth while cooking together fosters familial bonds and honors the significance of harvest that Matariki represents.

4. Reflecting and Honoring

Matariki is a time for remembrance. It’s a tradition to honor those who have passed on since the last rising of Matariki. Prepare to share stories of loved ones and possibly create an area in your home where you can display photographs or memorabilia. It’s an opportunity to discuss the concept of legacy and history with your children, invoking a sense of gratitude and reflection.

5. Community Participation

Lastly, part of celebrating Matariki involves community engagement. Look for local events and gatherings that you can attend as a family. Such events might include kite flying, performances, art displays, and more. Watching the sunrise on the day of Matariki, if it’s an observation in your community, can also be a truly special family outing, uniting you with others in welcoming the New Year.

As parents, by embracing and passing on the traditions surrounding Matariki, you help instill a sense of cultural heritage and appreciation in your children. You are also actively participating in the revival and continuation of this vital cultural event, connecting the past with the present, and looking forward to the future under the stars of Matariki.

See more great Things to Do with Kids in New Zealand here. For more information see here

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