17 June 2024

Matariki has been celebrated by Māori for hundreds of years. However, for many of us, Matariki celebrations are relatively new – 2024 is just the third time we’ve celebrated as a nation with a public holiday – and we’re still learning what Matariki means to us.

Looking to each of the nine stars in the Matariki cluster – and their associations, is a great way to think about what Matariki looks like in your life, and “whaiwhia te kete maatauranga hei orange moo koutou” or “fill the baskets of knowledge for the sake of your wellbeing”.


Tupu-aa-rangi is associated with food grown in the trees and birds – a traditional food source. Visit local bush pockets or sit quietly in your own backyard and see how many native birds you can spot – or hear. Get Tamariki involved in building a bird feeder to bring them closer still – just keep them out of reach of local cats.


Tupu-aa-nuku is associated with food grown in the ground. Traditionally, Matariki was a quiet period following harvest and a time to plan planting for the new season. Get together with the kids or a group of friends and plant a vege garden for a celebration that will sustain you throughout the year.


Waitii is associated with freshwater and the creatures living in it. Throughout our cities are pockets of green space, streams and gullies that are being restored back to a more natural state. It’s an uphill battle though, so celebrate Matariki in your neighbourhood by visiting local waterways to collect rubbish or joining an organised cleanup.


Matariki is associated with reflection, hope and connection – both to our environment and to one another. Acknowledge Matariki by gathering together and renewing contact with old friends – maybe over a walk in the natural environment. Or, take a few moments to reflect on life, the last year and what you hope for the coming year.


Waitaa twin to Waitii, is linked to the ocean and kaimoana. Head to the beach and wonder at a wilder winter feel that you might not be familiar with if you’re a summer-only beach visitor. Feeling extra brave? Go for a midwinter swim!


Waipuna-aa-rangi is associated with the many kinds of rain. Take time to acknowledge and appreciate the importance of rainfall to our world and consider what you can do to make better use of water for a more sustainable future.


Ururangi is the star associated with the wind. Traditional significance can be seen in the multitude of Te Reo words for different kinds of wind. Make and fly a kite to celebrate – traditional kite (manu tukutuku) instructions can be found online, or you can go modern with lightweight and aerodynamic kites that are a lot easier to fly than the kites of our childhood!