Matariki is Māori New Year, and is strongly associated with the celebration of harvest, of gifting food, and planning or preparing the ground for the new year's crops. It is a time to gather with whānau and friends and to reflect on what has been and what is yet to come.
The appearance of the Matariki star cluster signals a time to start planning and preparing your spring garden. The star cluster is also known as the Seven Sisters or Pleiades. Some like to think of the seven-star cluster as the "mother" Matariki and her six daughters. Some iwi celebrate a different cluster of stars called Puanga or Puaka. The rise of all these clusters happens between late May and July, and the celebrations remain much the same. These stars are also recognised as a new-year marker and are celebrated in other Pacific nations.
Matariki is the time to plan the Maori calendar (Maramataka). The calendar shows the ideal days for fishing, gardening and other practical food gathering or planning activities as well as the days to avoid certain activities. These are determined by the moon and the lunar cycle.
Here is a look at a Maramataka taken from a 1918 book. The straight lines indicated good nights for line fishing, and black dots for fishing by torchlight. A night such as Whiro, with a dot and a line, was good for both.
Matariki is a beautiful reminder of the importance of nurturing, respecting and restoring our environment.
Here are some ideas of how you can celebrate Matariki:
Attend one of the Matariki festivals. Here is the Auckland festival guide http://www.matarikifestival.org.nz/
Share some of your home grown produce with family, whanau and friends. Lemons and other citrus fruit are in abundance at this time and with a long shelf life they are perfect to share, especially with those who don't have their own trees.
Make your own Maramataka by marking the Maori lunar calendar on a wall chart or calendar. Take a look at this example http://astredu.nz/images/downloads/Maori_Lunar_Calendar_Activity.pdf
Go fishing on one of the nights indicated on the Maramataka as being a good night for fishing with grandchildren (mokopuna)
If you have plenty of citrus ripening, make lemon curd or marmalade with tamariki mokopuna.
Do some star gazing and find the Matariki star cluster with whanau and friends. Here's some more information about the star cluster and how to spot it https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/discover-collections/read-watch-play/maori/matariki-maori-new-year/whare-tapere/matariki-star-facts
Make a compost or a worm farm so you can recycle your uncooked food scraps into fertiliser for your garden.
Plant blubs such as garlic cloves which will sprout after Winter.
Add new fruit trees to your garden, perhaps something that will ripen this time next Matariki, such as a lemon, lime or mandarin.
Take part in the Trees that Count initiative and plant some native trees in your area. https://www.treesthatcount.co.nz/matariki/
Did you know The Little Digger has an Auger attachment which makes planting SOOOOO easy. The auger attaches to The Little Digger and drills out holes in no time. Perfect for planting new trees, putting in posts for orchards, piles for houses or decks.