3 June 2022 | Written by Bachcare Holiday Homes

What is Matariki?

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Feeling excited about a new public holiday this year, but unsure of the significance and why it’s so important that Aotearoa is commemorating this special time?

2022 is the first year where there has been a public holiday to celebrate Matariki, this year falling on the 24th of June, marking the constellation’s reappearance. We thought our Bachcare community would appreciate some extra insight into this special time, so read on and start planning how you’ll celebrate Matariki this year.

Photo credit: pbkwee at https://www.flickr.com/photos/rimuhosting/

The rise of Matariki signifies the beginning of the Māori New Year and is a time to acknowledge the year just been, celebrate the present times and prepare for the next year. Historically as part of this preparation for the next year, tohunga (experts or priests), would look to Matariki to signal whether the coming harvest would be plentiful; the brighter and clearer the constellation, the warmer growing season to come and a better harvest.

Different iwi across Aotearoa celebrate Matariki in their own ways, some celebrate at varying stages of visibility of the star cluster, while others have differing myths passed through their generations and as such you’ll find there is not only one way to celebrate Matariki.

Image Credit: Daniel Rood. Starry Skies at Castlepoint, Wairarapa.

The Matariki star cluster can also be seen from other parts of the world, with other countries and cultures having their own names and stories surrounding it such as;

  • Its Ancient Greek Name is Pleiades, translated to English as ‘the Seven Sisters’
  • In Hawaiian, it is Makali‘I, translated as ‘eyes of royalty’
  • In Japan, it is referred to as Subaru, which means ‘gathered together’

Matariki has traditionally also been a time to acknowledge those who have passed and release their spirits to then become stars. Other ways of the celebration included making offerings, honouring your ancestors, and lighting ritual fires. In more recent times, people from all across the country will join together to celebrate through share stories, songs and kai (food).

Image Credit: Camilla Rutherford

This time of year is all about reconnecting with your whānau and your home and we hope our Bachcare Community will take time over this new public holiday to celebrate Matariki and take time to appreciate the importance of this time of year.

Keen to head away for the Matariki long weekend? Check out our currently available holiday homes here.

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