Matariki hunga nui

ImageThe whakataukī above can be translated as meaning Matariki has many admirers. Matariki refers to the small yet distinctive constellation of The Pleiades and the name itself is often translated as meaning tiny eyes, or the eyes of God.

Traditionally, the reappearance of the star cluster in our night sky would be eagerly watched for and its appearance when it rose was thought by some to predict what the crop harvest would be like for the coming year. To many iwi the reappearance of Matariki (The Pleiades) in our skies during June, was a tohu that marked the beginning of a new year.

Christchurch City Libraries Matariki celebrations and events have been happening in our libraries since the beginning of June, as we prepare to welcome in the New Year on the 21 June.

CoverIf you don’t know a lot about Matariki and would like to learn more, the book Matariki by Libby Hakaraia is a good place to start . If you’re looking for a story you can read with children then Matariki by Melanie Drewery is a wonderful choice, it is well-written and introduces and shares some of the different beliefs and themes that relate to Matariki through story. For those who are speakers of Te Reo there is also a Te Reo Māori edition of the book.

You could also take a look at some of our excellent online resources. You could visit the Matariki page on the Māori zone on our website, or if you are looking for information more suitable for children you could try our Matariki page in the KidsZone. For teachers, we have a Matariki Teachers’ Resource [494KB PDF] that can also be found on our Matariki page.

You can find out more about our Matariki events here, including times and dates for our Matariki storytimes for preschoolers at a library near you, and details for the Storyblanket display from 25 – 30 June and the Matariki whānau day at Rehua Marae on Saturday 30 June. All our Matariki events are free and open to the public.

Cold crime

CoverIf you think our winter has been unreasonably cold, consider Scandinavia and Scotland. Perhaps the reason their crime authors are so prolific has nothing to do with any criminal propensities, but is simply down to the need to entertain themselves during long gloomy winters.

I certainly find I enjoy reading their ice-bound stories during winter. I can imagine myself there better when there is frost on the ground. And reading the details of life in the freezer makes me feel I’m not so hard done by.

Having read my way through such Scandinavian authors as Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum and Ake Edwardson, I am now reading Camilla Lackberg’s offerings. They have a cosy domesticity to them that nicely counters the frozen landscape, along with excellent characterisation and absorbing mysteries.

I may, I fear, run out of Scandinavian authors soon. Happily though a seemingly endless supply of new Scottish writers still awaits me. Even Ian Rankin has recently promised that he is bringing back Rebus soon for an encore. Having found myself in a queue for the Scandinavian authors I am hoping I can beat the rush by signing up to some not quite so heavily reserved Scottish authors such as Gordon Ferris, Tony Black, Karen Campbell and Louise Welsh.

Scotland has so many mystery writers that it recently launched a Scottish crime book festival. Sadly I won’t be attending, but their website is a great source of information about Scottish crime writers and if you can’t find a good Scottish read on our book list, try their website for ideas.