For us New Zealanders we have something else special happening though that I thought I’d share with you/ celebrate etc. You’ve probably (hopefully) heard of Matariki. It’s the Maori equivalent of New Year and it’s been getting some hype in recent years. These days Auckland has a whole festival for it!
Matariki occurs every year around this time to coincide with the rising of Matariki, otherwise known as the constellation, Pleiades. If you get up early you’ll be able to see it shining in the sky.
In te reo Matariki means ‘the eyes of God’ or ‘little eyes.’ The stories tell that Matariki are the eyes of Tawhirimatea, the God of the Winds. Apparently Tawhirimatea pulled his eyes out and flung them to the skies in anger at the separation of his parents, Ranginui and Papatuanuku. Another story is that Matariki shows the mother surrounded by her six daughters, who guide the sun during the dark winter.
Matariki plays an active role in Maori life as well though. Traditionally the stars were an important aspect of life. They were used to judge when to do things, how to navigate etc. Matariki signals the end of the harvest and beginning of the new year. With food stocks high Maori celebrate those dead and alive, particularly remembering those whom have been lost. It’s our very own thanksgiving.
As I mentioned earlier, Matariki has had a bit of a revival in recent years. There’s a few good books around (including one by my aunty, Libby Hakaraia *namedropnamedrop*) and there’s also been a boom in festivals/ kite flying, all sorts of fun things. (If you want to check out whats going on there’s this festival in Auckland, but Eventfinder also has some dates for the rest of the country here.)
I’m a bit of a sucker for a good holiday and some cheesy tradition so last year I decided to start a little something with Matariki at it’s heart. I gathered all my close friends together (and a few who had just happened to pop by) and we had a huge feast. Somehow we all managed to squeeze around a tiny table, scrounge all sorts of crockery for plates, and me being me I was super flustered about the whole thing but it was great. We ate, laughed, drank and shared a little thought of something that we are thankful for. It was really fun but also quite deep… if that makes sense. I’m hoping to be able to recreate this very soon. It was great fun and a nice way to bring things into perspective and share the love. And hey, personally I don’t think we celebrate our own things enough in this country.
I think that it would be cool if Matariki became a thing for every New Zealander. A time to share stories, love and good food. So tell me, how are you going to celebrate Matariki? Will you get your friends together for kai and korero? Or attend one of the shows? If you do please pass it on! I’ll be sharing our feast sometime in the future.