Matariki: Te Tau Hou Māori | SYLVIA PARK


09 June 2022

Legend of Matariki

In the beginning, Ranginui (Sky Father) and Papatūānuku (Earth Mother) were joined together, and their children were born between them in darkness. Frustrated with the endless darkness, the children decided to separate their parents to allow light to come into the world. All children were content except for Tāwhirimātea (God of Winds) who wished for his parents to be reunited. In defiance, Tāwhirimātea, tore his out his eyes and hurled them into the heavens, creating Matariki which literally means ‘eyes of god’ or ‘little eyes’.

What is Matariki?

The star cluster Matariki appears in our night sky during June – July signifying the close of the old lunar year and marks the beginning of the Māori New Year.

We look to the stars to guide us and ground us here on earth. This artwork series is a warmer reminder that during Matariki, a new day dawns where we should enter a state of appreciation, come together with friends, whānau and communities, to celebrate those who are no longer with us and renew our energies for another year full of life.

Celebrating Matariki

Traditionally, Tohunga (experts) used the Matariki star cluster to determine how plentiful the upcoming year’s harvest would be. Bright and clear stars indicated a warm and successful season whilst hazy stars foresaw cold weather and poor crops. Festivities were held following the harvesting of crops when the pātaka (food store houses) were full.

Today around New Zealand, people celebrate this time by coming together to remember and honour those who have passed, share food, sing, tell stories, play music and celebrate new life.



The Stars


Matariki tāpuapua. Matariki nāna i ao ake te kai ki runga. Matariki hunga nui. Matariki ahunga nui. Te ope o te rua Matariki. Ka rewa a Matariki, ka maoka te hinu. Ka rewa a Matariki ka rere te kanakana.

Matariki is the star that signifies reflection, hope, our connection to the environment, and the gathering of people. Matariki is also connected to the health and well-being of people.




Puanga is the star Rigel in Orion. Most of the tribes of the Maori people in Aotearoa observed Puanga to mark the beginning of the Maori New Year.

In Maori mythology, he was believed to be the older brother of Matariki.

Puanga is known to bring about the autumn rains and cause flooding throughout the country to replenish the land and leave much-needed nutrients to fertilize the earth. He is believed to descend from thunder and lightning, which is logical as rain is sometimes accompanied by the elements of lightning and thunder.

The Puanga year can be traced back to India to ancient astronomers of the Hindu faith where a schism occurred between two distinct rival schools of philosophy creating the Puanga and Matariki traditions for the last six thousand years.



Waitī ki runga, Waitī ki raro, e rere nei ō wai hei manapou mō te whenua, hei oranga mō te tāngata, hei kete kai mā te iwi. Kōriporipo tonu nei te ia o te awa, māreparepa ana ngā roto, kōrengarenga te puna a Tāne-te-waiora, he koira!

Waitī above, Waitī below, flowing are your waters as sustenance for the land, as vitality for mankind, as a food basket for the people. The current of the river swirls and eddies, the lakes ripple, and the source of Tāne-te-waiora overflows, ‘tis life!

Waitī is associated with all freshwater bodies and the food sources that are sustained by those waters.




Tērā te marae nui a Kiwa te kānapanapa nei i raro i a koe Waitā. Hīia mai rā ki runga te tini a Ikatere, rukuhia ki tai, kohia ki tātahi hei kai mā te tini o uta. Ka hiki mata te tapuwae a Tangaroa! Koia au nui, koia au roa, koia moana tuarangaranga koia moana i āio.

Behold the great expanse of Kiwa that gleams green and blue beneath you Waitā. Draw up the many of Ikatere, dive out to sea, and collect from the seaside as food for the multitude ashore. The charm of

Tangaroa has begun! ‘Tis the great current, the long current, the boisterous ocean, the calm ocean.

Waitā is associated with the ocean and food sources within it.


Tupuānuku ka pihi nuku, ka pihi rangi, kia makuru haere ake nei. Kia haumako roa hoki te puke ki a Rongo, i āhua mai i tawhiti. Ngā hua o Nukutū ka aohia nuitia, arā rā ngakingaki, ara rā tinaku. Hauhaketia rā te tau, he tau humi e.

Tupuānuku shoot up, and grow down, to be plentiful. May the mound dedicated to Rongo be forever fertile, that which was formed from afar. The bounty of Nukutū is scooped up in great numbers, till the soil, cultivate, harvest the year of copious abundance.
Tupuānuku is the star associated with everything that grows within the soil to be harvested or gathered for food.




Ngaruru te waokū, matomato te waokū, māpuapua te puhikaioreore e tau ai ngā tamariki a Tāne, tērā koia te pua nui. Tupuārangi māu e mōmona ai te nahenah; ka mōmona ngā manu, ka mōmona ngā hua, ka puta ka ora!

Thriving is the forest, lush is the forest, bountiful is the crown of the forest upon which the children of Tāne settle, there indeed is the great fowling tree. Tupuārangi you shall make the forest plentiful; the birds are rich with fat, the berries are fertile, sustenance!

Tupuārangi is associated with everything that grows up in the trees: fruits, berries, and birds.



Tērā a Pōhutukawa ka mōiri ki runga he pae whakamahara mō aku tau kahurangi kua ngaro. Pīratarata mai rā koutou hei whetū i te pō, kōrekoreko mai rā hoki koutou i te rokiroki o ngā mahara mō ake tonu atu e.

There yonder is Pōhutukawa suspended above, a constant reminder for my treasured ones that have gone. May you shine as stars in the night, and sparkle within the repository of memories forever more.
Pōhutukawa is the star associated with those that have passed on.

Korero provided by Paraone Gloyne and Dr. Rangi Mataamua and taken from Te Iwa o Matariki.