A Matariki poem: Ururangi – Seventh born

Ururangi – Seventh Born

E Ururangi – Seventh born,
yonder in the heavens,
cloaked within your stardust korowai,
we see you, I see you…
amid your celestial whānau Matariki,
Ururangi, I entreat, throw off your cloak and shine brightly,
herald in the gentle winds,
so as we may rest and celebrate good fortune,
E Ururangi – Seventh born,
yonder in the heavens.

An original poem about Matariki that references one of the stars of the cluster, Ururangi – the star of the wind. The kaupapa (focus) for Matariki 2018 is sustainable natural resources of Matariki – Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi and Ururangi. These whetū (stars) are connected to food that is grown in the earth, food that comes from the sky, and the wind. It is essential for us to look after our Earth, and its natural resources, so that it can continue to sustain us.

Ururangi’s Gift – a Matariki Story

An original story about Matariki that draws on the themes of Toitū Ngā Mahinga Kai o Matariki – Sustainable Natural Resources of Matariki. The kaupapa (focus) for Matariki 2018 is sustainable natural resources of Matariki – Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi and Ururangi. These whetū (stars) are connected to food that is grown in the earth, food that comes from the sky, and the wind. It is essential for us to look after our Earth, and its natural resources, so that it can continue to sustain us.

Ururangi’s Gift – A Matariki Story

“Koro! Koro!” Nikau  ran as fast as he could muster, dodging rocks and hurling over bushes. Branches even grasped at the threads of his red hoodie, but they were no match for his speed.

“What is it Nikau?” a voice rang from the vegetable patch, pricking at his ears as he gleefully followed the sound.

” Koro!” Nikau almost tripped over his laces as his arms wrapped tightly around the old man, making Koro’s wrinkles iron out with a smile. “Look what I found!” Excitedly, Nikau opened his palm, showing the tiny seed hidden within.

“Ah! My dear moko you have found a Kōwhai seed.” Koro delicately lifted the seed from Nikau’s palm and pinched it between two fingers; gazing at it through the sunlight. “Ururangi must have brought it to us!”

“Ururangi?” Nikau was puzzled. “who is Ururangi?”

Sighing Koro started, “Ah, sit down Nikau, and let me tell you a story. You must know this- it is part of your whakapapa.”

“Really?” Nikau hurriedly sat on the grass, his shorts turning green from its stain.

“Do you know Matariki? It is our celebration of the new year- it is very, very special to us for many reasons.”

Nikau leaned in.

“Ururangi is one of 9 stars in the star cluster Matariki- there are hundreds of stars within, but these 9 are especially important as we can see them with our naked eye, and each hold domain over different areas of our environment. Their names are; Matariki, Pōhutukawa, Waitī and Waitā, Waipuna-ā-rangi, Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi, Ururangi, and finally Hiwa-i-te-rangi. Our tupuna would gaze at each of these stars, who would tell us what the year ahead would be like. You my dear moko, have the speed of Ururangi,” Koro chuckled “but the clumsiness of- maybe a duck?”

“Hey!” Nikau’s face turned bright red, with a sheepish grin breaking through his lips.

“Uruangi is fast too and has domain over the wind and its nature for the coming year. He gave you this special little seed, and soon you will need to pass it on for Tupu-ā-nuku to protect. We can’t plant this yet Nikau, as it’s too cold for the little Kōwhai – it is fast alseep. You will have to keep it safe until it is ready to plant in spring where it will be wide awake; but we can get the soil ready for it, and find it a safe spot for it to grow.”

Koro led Nikau by the hand, and together they found a perfect clearing for the Kōwhai to grow. Using Koro’s old trusty tools, Koro teaches Nikau how to till the soil, carefully breaking up clumps of dirt and preparing the little patch of garden.

“Tupu-ā-nuku has domain over the food grown in the earth,” Koro whispered. “Under her protection it will grow proud and tall bearing its yellow flowers as thanks.”

Nikau rubbed his hands together. They were sore, but the work they had accomplished together made him smile.

“So once Tupu-ā-nuku has it that’s it?” Nikau questioned, placing a little worm carefully  back into the dirt.

“Ehē of course not Nikau, life has a cycle, and that is only the first step.”

Nikau jumped into grandpa’s lap, relieved that isn’t the end of the story.

“Once it’s time to plant the little seed we will place it in the ground, cover it with soil and give it plenty of water. It will eventually grow its first leaves, sprouting from the ground, Tupu-ā-nuku will then help care for it, hiding it under the blades of grass, as it slowly grows and becomes stronger. The higher it reaches and the stronger it grows, the further from the ground it goes- until it cannot reach anymore!” Nikau gazed up at the sky “My seed will reach the clouds, I know it!”

Koro chuckled, “maybe not- but Kōwhai has its own purpose in life, as do I, as do you. Kōwhai gives thanks by bearing beautiful yellow flowers- this is part of its purpose.”

“So.. its purpose is to just be pretty.. that’s it?” Nikau’s heart sank.

“Ehē Nikau, kōwhai also has an ability to help us when we are unwell; its bark has healed many, as it can become a medicine to help wounds heal- but only when it grows; and once Kōwhai reaches up to the heavens, it becomes part of the domain of Tupu-ā-rangi who has domain over food from the sky.”

“Koro,” Nikau started, “you must be getting old- you can’t plant kumara in the sky!”

“Food is in many forms Nikau- and you are very cheeky!” Koro laughed, messing up Nikau’s hair.

“Kōwhai’s purpose is to feed the birds that fly in Tupu-ā-rangi’s domain-our native birds such as Tui, bellbirds, and wood pigeon feast happily on those bright flowers and lush leaves- Kōwhai give nectar as food for many of our bird life, and in return Tupu-ā-nuku cares for all of them.”

Nikau felt the inside of his pocket where the seed safely slept, excited about of what the little seed will achieve.

“The circle of life is completed when that little Kōwhai produces seeds, giving them back to Ururangi to scatter over the land. Each plays an important part; it is special to us and to our tupuna, as it will be to your own tamariki.”

Nikau hugged koro as hard as he could. He now knew why his Kōwhai seed was such a special gift to him and his whānau.

“Thank you for the story koro, I can’t wait for Matariki!”

Nikau jumped up and raced inside, hoping to have a taste of the Matariki feast.

“Nikau! Aren’t you going to help me harvest the kumara?” Koro questioned, but Nikau was already out of sight.

Koro chuckled “One day Nikau will learn,” he murmured, as he continued to prepare the soil; breaking up massive clumps of dirt and pulling out old plant roots,planning where the new plants could grow. It was hard work, but worth it for the new year coming, as then he would be ready to plant in spring. Koro had to work fast, as the kumara harvest would soon end at Marariki, which would fill their winter stores until he could plant new crops-just like his tupuna before him. Dusk soon basked the sky in bright colours, signalling the end of the day.

Koro cleaned his tools, storing them in the nearby shed. He then gathered the freshly harvested kumara in hand and made his way inside, waiting for the new year to begin.

Want to read more?

Matariki 2018

List created by ChristchurchLib

This year Christchurch City Libraries continue to explore the reintroduction of Te Iwa o Matariki – The Nine Stars of Matariki. This booklist features new favourites and some of our old favourites, as well as resources which relate to this year’s theme – Toitū Ngā Mahinga Kai o Matariki – Sustainable Natural Resources of Matariki. These three whetū are Tupu-ā-nuku which is associated with food that grows in the ground. Tupu-ā-rangi, associated with food that comes from the sky, and Ururangi, connected to the nature of the winds for the coming year. A Christchurch City Libraries list.

Cover of Ngā whetū matariki i whānakotiaNgā whetū matariki i whānakotia – Join Sam, Te Rerehua, Grandma and Pōua out at Te Mata Hāpuku (Bridling’s flat) for an adventure featuring patupaiarehe, eeling and stolen stars. Available in both te reo Māori and English with a portion of the book’s sales going towards the restoration of Te Roto o Wairewa.

Matariki – A beautiful book full of beautiful illustrations. The first of its kind this book is an easily read current piece of literature devoted to the star cluster Matariki, for adults. Also available in te reo Māori Rangi Matamua has produced a great piece of work reintroducing the knowledge of Te Iwa o Matariki.

Episode 7 – Matariki – Pipi Mā – The Cartoon

Learn about the Nine Stars of Matariki in the episode. Pipi Mā make a mobile of the star constellation Matariki and celebrate each star.

Associate Professor Dr Rangi Matamua talks about his recently released book, Matariki: The Star of the Year, at Te Herenga Waka Marae, Victoria University of Wellington.

Cover of Matariki: te whetū tapu o te tauMatariki

Tāwhirimātea – Recently released last year Tāwhirimātea A song for Matariki is beautifully illustrated and a hit with primary school aged tamariki.

View Full List 

Check out this year’s events celebrating Matariki 2018!

Matariki – a time for garden plans

With Matariki approaching, it’s nearly time to start thinking about our food plantings for the coming year. Three stars of the Matariki cluster, Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi, and Ururangi, are important to planning for the coming year’s food crops – and traditionally the way they appear to viewers (hazy or clear, for instance) helped Māori determine when the best planting times and conditions would be.

Tupu-ā-nuku is the star of food from the earth – root vegetables and anything that grows directly from the ground, so this covers most of the vege garden. Tupu-ā-rangi governs food from the sky – so that’s fruit from trees, berries, and birds. Ururangi is the star of the winds, so it’s understandable this star would play an important part in determining key dates of the growing calendar – particularly in windy Canterbury!

As a gardener and seed-saver myself, all this makes perfect sense – the middle of winter is the best time to leave the saturated garden soils alone to hibernate (and slowly mature their winter crops), while I hibernate too in the warmth of the lounge and process my saved seeds from summer and autumn. As I do so, I’m thinking about next year’s garden rotation: making sure each type of vegetable will have a different spot from the previous year (to minimise the build-up of soil-borne diseases), assessing the harvest from each variety and whether it needs different conditions or an adjusted planting time, and deciding whether I have enough seeds of each type – and whether I’d like to try growing any new vege or varieties.

Seed saving is a great way to take control of your food supply, save money, teach kids about growing, preserve local varieties – and keep that delicious tomato you grew last summer so you can have it again! Anything you’ve grown from bought seed that isn’t an F1 hybrid (a cross to increase plant vigour that won’t grow ‘true to type’ in subsequent generations) can be left to go to seed and its seeds harvested for next year. If you’re buying seed with a view to saving it, look for heritage varieties as their seeds will ‘grow true’.

bean collection
Beans. An easy way to start seed saving.

Peas and beans are super-easy seeds to start saving yourself. Just let some pods dry as much as possible on the plant, pick them before they start getting too wet in autumn, and keep the seeds for next spring. These large and colourful seeds are fun for kids to grow too – easy for little fingers to handle, and their seedlings pop up super-fast.

You can also have a chat with other gardeners in your area and see if they have any seeds for you to try – locally-saved seeds are often a good bet, as they’re adapted to local conditions. You might also want to keep an eye out for the Libraries’ Spring Seeds Swaps, which take place in many libraries across the network (we’ll be posting the dates and locations of these in our events calendar closer to spring).

A parsnip plant gone to seed
A parsnip “tree” going to seed

For me one of the joys of seed saving is seeing the mature forms of vegetable plants, which we often don’t see since we harvest them before maturity. Who knew a parsnip left to go to seed would grow into a ‘tree’ as tall as the guttering of my house? Not me! It was magnificent. 🙂

Different plants need different seed saving techniques, but the good news is there are lots of great books available on seed saving. Why not try starting with one or two plants, and learning how to save seed from a new one every season?

Trust me, once you get started seed saving becomes quite addictive – my poor partner puts up with kitchen towels spread with tomato seeds, a laundry strung with drying corn cobs, and paper bags of seed heads drying all over the house. Gotta have a hobby, I say!

Find out more

 

Mother Nature: Giving us everything we need to create beautiful, natural, art

The chill of frosty mornings. Puddles to splash in. Trees a-flame with orange, red, and yellow leaves… and the crunch of those leaves underfoot. There’s no doubt about it. Autumn is here, and she’s arrived in all her glory. Sure, she’s on her way out, and the early-morning frosts are starting to creep in, but let’s enjoy this season while we can.

This time of the year marks the start of the Māori New Year, and the celebration of Matariki. It’s a time of preparing for the coming year, and celebrating with our friends and whānau. This year, Christchurch City Libraries is celebrating the ‘earth stars’ (Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi), and the ‘wind star’ (Ururangi), with a focus on sustainable natural resources, and the ways we can protect the environment around us.

Relax Stone Balance Zen Stacking Stones Rock

During the colder months, it can be tempting to just stay indoors, but since we know that being outdoors in nature is good for our mental and emotional well-being, why not find a way to bring nature inside? Sure, we could go out, buy paint, and create a mural on a wall …  but leftover paint may get poured down a drain, end up in our seas and rivers, and kill our fish. We could go to a gift shop and buy a cool plastic bird to put in our bedroom, or go and buy an African wall-hanging … but the plastic bird will be wrapped in plastic that will end up in the landfill, and the plane trip the wall-hanging took to get here to Aotearoa New Zealand has a huge carbon footprint.

So let’s see if we can support the kaupapa of this year’s Matariki theme, look for ways to decrease our  more environmental footprint, and use sustainable natural resources to decorate instead.

I’m not overly artistic, but even I know that there’s something relaxing about collecting objects from the outdoors, then creating something from them. Leaf people, pinecone animals, bookmarks made of leaves and flowers covered in contact paper – I spent hours creating these when I was little, and I’m not ready to stop making natural art just yet. There are multiple ways of artfully stacking stones, creating leaf art, and using attractive twigs in ways that are as fun for adults as they are for kids, and as the days start to get shorter we can use those longer evenings to let our creative juices flow.

So why not make the most of the natural resources around us, and create some art using just what Mother Nature has given us? If you’re stuck for inspiration, check out some of these Christchurch City Libraries’ books for ideas.

The Wild Dyer
by Abigail Booth

Cover of The wild dyer

I have always loved the idea of staining paper with coffee or tea to make the paper look tattered, old, and parchment-like. In this book, you can do the grown-up version of this! Learn how to use plants, seeds and foods from your kitchen, garden, and surrounds to dye fabric and create lovely soft furnishings to keep your home cosy and welcoming. This is a great way to use up the ends of veges when you are cooking, and minimises green waste.

Hand Printing from Nature by Laura Bethmann
Cover of Hand printing from nature

Wandering around outdoors, you find so many interesting shapes in the leaves and nature around you. What better way to celebrate this variety than by creating your own unique prints on stationery, clothing, and furniture? With ideas for projects ranging from simple to complex, you’re bound to find something that suits your tastes, and your talent levels.

The Organic Artist by Nick Neddo

Cover of The organic artist

If you would prefer your arts to your craft, this could be the book for you. Pencils, inks, bowls for the ink, paintbrushes, books – this book teaches you how to make all this (and more!) using just the resources around you. Even if you are like me, and don’t have the time to create all your gear from scratch, this is a fascinating read, and the photos throughout the book really demonstrate how versatile the world around us can be. If you are up for the challenge, though, instead of buying plastic paintbrushes or commercially-produced books which have travelled from overseas, give this try.

Green Crafts for Children by Emma Hardy

Cover of Green crafts for kids

Children are made to be outdoors, moving, exploring, and discovering the world around them, and they naturally scavenge to find little treasures in their environment. This book has a whole section on crafts using natural resources, from natural inks, to pinecone animals, to games of driftwood noughts and crosses. Creating and playing with natural toys and games is much more environmentally-friendly than using disposable plastic toys, so next time your little explorers need to stay inside, why not use some of these ideas for a fun afternoon of creativity.

Christchurch City Libraries will be celebrating Matariki throughout the month of Pipiri/June, so keep an eye out for an event near you!

  • Bring your tamariki along for some Matariki-themed Wā Kōrero Storytimes.
  • Got little crafters in the whānau? Check out our Matariki Toi (community art projects) at your local community library.
  • Bring the whole whānau along to the Matariki Whānau Fun Days at Aranui and Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale for a morning of storytelling, crafting, and discovery.

Matariki – Māori New Year 2018

Matariki – the Māori New Year – will take place on 6-9 July 2018. During Matariki we celebrate our unique place in the world. We give respect to the whenua on which we live, and admiration to our mother earth, Papatūānuku.

Matariki 2018 at Christchurch City Libraries continues the theme of ‘Te Iwa o Matariki – the Nine stars of Matariki’, this year with a focus on Toitū Ngā Mahinga Kai o Matariki – Sustainable natural resources of Matariki: Tupuānuku, Tupuārangi, Ururangi.

During June in the lead up to Māori New Year we’ll be offering a range of whānau-friendly celebrations and activities at our libraries.

Matariki promo image 2018

Matariki Toi – Community Art Project in the Library

Each year a community art project runs in our libraries for all to explore their creative side. This year the project is create a replica manu tukutuku (traditional Māori kite). Materials are supplied, all you have to do is bring your creativity.

Matariki Wā Kōrero – Matariki Storytimes

In addition to our normal Storytimes we have Matariki Storytimes. Come celebrate and welcome the Māori New Year with stories, songs, rhymes and craft activities. All welcome, free of charge.

See our list of Matariki Wā Kōrero – Matariki Storytimes.

Matariki storytimes
Matariki storytimes at Lyttelton Library, June 2017. File reference: 2017-06-Matariki-Matariki – Community Art Project LY 6

Matariki Whānau Fun Days – Saturday 9 & 23 June

Matariki StarsCelebrate Matariki at our two free whānau fun days! We’ll have art activities, colouring competitions, storytelling, exploring the stars with Skyview and much more!

Aranui Library
Saturday 9 June
10am-1pm

Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Community Centre
Saturday 23 June
10am-1pm

Matariki Connect

Our Learning Centres are offering special Matariki Connect sessions for schools, introducing students to the key concepts of Te Iwa o Matariki, and involving a range of fun activities. This programme is now fully booked.

Find all Matariki events at the library

Other Matariki events in Christchurch

Matariki Celebrations: The Arts Centre – 8 June – 22 July

The Arts Centre invites you to come together as a community / whānau to celebrate Matariki 2018 with a variety of activities including a talk by Māori astronomer Dr Rangi Matamua, kapa haka, music and themed storytime sessions.

Matariki Celebration – Ara: Institute of Canterbury – 11-15 June

Ara will be having a whole programme of celebrations and activities 11-15 June across all of their campuses, including waiata, games, speakers, and food.

Matariki Celebration at Bromley Community Centre – Friday 15 June

Pop along to the Bromley Community Centre to celebrate Matariki (Māori New Year)
Free entertainment, free activities, free tea and coffee, free fruit, plus affordable, yummy Māori kai available to purchase! Bromley School Kapa Haka Group will be performing at 4:30pm

4-7pm
Bromley Community Centre
45 Bromley Road

Matariki Star Craft – Saturday 16 June 11am

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū – Listen to a new story, The Stolen Stars of Marariki by Miriana Kamo and Zak Waipara, and then make your own Matariki mobile to take home.  Ages 4-9. $5 per child, book online.

Matariki in the Zone – Sunday 17 June

Organised by Avebury House, Avon-Ōtākaro Network and Richmond Community Garden.  Guests are encouraged to contribute produce from their own garden or pantry, dropping off at Avebury House at 11am to contribute to the shared meal from 12 noon to 2pm. Please RSVP to let them know participant numbers and harvest contribution at: www.aveburyhouse.co.nz

  • Māori crafts (wood carving and flax weaving)
  • Live music
  • Fun things to do for kids.
  • Shared kai of soups by Richard Till, and a hangi
  • blessing and opening of the Native Edible Garden in the Richmond Community Garden

Avebury House,
9 Eveleyn Couzins Ave
Richmond

Te Whare Roimata & the Linwood Community Arts Centre presents “Te Whare Maire O Nga Punawerewere” Festival of Maori Art & Culture Monday 18 June to Friday 6 July

Beginning on Monday 18th June at 5pm with a powhiri, this exhibition showcases contemporary and traditional art works by local Māori artists. Free Kapa haka classes will be held throughout the exhibition and follow the theme of the seven stars of Matariki. The classes offered this year are kite making, movies, waiata and a concert on the final night of Friday 6th July at 5pm.

The children’s activities will be held Tuesdays 4.30pm – 6.30pm & Fridays 5pm onwards throughout the exhibition.
Tuesday 19 June Kapa Haka arts storytelling
Friday 22 June Traditional Games
Tuesday 26 June Movie night
Friday 29 June Whānau movie night
Tuesday 3 July Kapa Haka arts storytelling
Friday 6 July Concert night.

There is no charge for classes however registrations are essential. Call 981 2881 to book. Children and families most welcome.

Eastside Gallery
388 Worcester Street
Gallery Hours:
Monday to Friday 11am – 4pm
Saturday 12pm – 3pm
Most art works will be for sale

Subscribe to the Facebook event.

Light Up Matariki Lantern Making Workshop – Sunday 24 June

Create nature inspired lanterns this Matariki at the Gardens. Combine twigs, leaves and paper to make LED candle lanterns and light up the chilly nights of Matariki. Limited places and parents and guardians will be required to help with construction. Please note that we will be using hot glue. This workshop is most suitable for 7 to 12 year olds, but all ages are welcome. Cost $5 per child.

10am to midday
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Visitor Centre and Ilex Cafe
Rolleston Avenue

Matariki at the Hub – Sunday 24 June

Celebrating Matariki at the Phillipstown Community Hub!
A family day with lots of activities, bouncy castle, face painting, carving, music, waiata, traditional sports, photo booths, arts & crafts, kapa haka, and – of course – kai!

11am-2pm
Phillipstown Community Hub
39 Nursery Road
Christchurch

Rehua Marae Matariki Whānau Day – Saturday 30 June

Matariki celebrations at Rehua Marae – subscribe to the Facebook event.
Kai and craft stalls, entertainment from local kapa haka and Maori musicians, free workshops. Entertainment: Kaitaka Tupuna O Rehua, Nga Toi O Te Rangi, Lisa Tui, Nga Manu a Tane, Mahina Kaui, Te Ahikaaroa, Te Kotahitanga, and the Koro Band. Workshops (start at 11.30) include star weaving, miniature kite making, tiki making, lantern making,and poi making. Some workshops have limited spaces.

The mobile library van will also be on site.

11am-3pm
Rehua Marae
79 Springfield Road
Christchurch

Matariki at Rehua Marae
Rehua Marae, St Albans, Christchurch. Saturday 28 June 2014. File Reference: 2014-06-28-IMG_0501

Matariki Market Day – Thursday 5 July

A student led market with stalls, performances and lots of fun. All welcome.

2pm to 4pm
Haeata Community Campus
240 Breezes Road

Matariki Night Makete / Markets – Friday-Saturday, 6-7 July

The Matariki Night Markets will include:

  • Kapa Haka performances and NZ music from singer songwriters
  • Traditional kai and New Zealand favourites such as fish and chips and pavlova
  • Art, crafts, jewellery all with a New Zealand feel/twist

4-10pm
The Arts Centre
2 Worcester Boulevard
Christchurch Central

Matariki Dawn Planting – Sunday 15 July

Join rongoā practitioners as they celebrate Matariki the Māori New Year with a dawn karakia and tree planting as a symbol of new beginnings. The dawn planting will be followed by a hui with kai (bring a plate of food to share) and discussion of the plans for the next 12 months for this new park.

There will also second planting event at 10am. This planting event is suitable for families.

Rongoā Garden – Styx
565R Marshland Road
Ouruhia
Christchurch

More on Matariki

 

Te Iwa o Matariki – The Nine Stars of Matariki

Kua ara ake ahau i te papa o te whenua
Kua kite ahau i ngā whetū e tūtaki tahi ana
Ko Matariki te kairūri
Ko Atutahi kei te taumata o te mangōroa

The scope of our imagination is from the earth to the stars
Professor Te Wharehuia Milroy, Kura Reo ki Te Waipounamu 2014

Matariki 2017 is a fresh look through old eyes at Māori oral traditions, practices and customs associated with the Māori New Year. Over the next three years the Christchurch City Libraries will be re-introducing ‘Te Iwa o Matariki – the Nine stars of Matariki’ beginning with Te Kātao o Matariki – the water stars of Matariki, Waipuna-ā-rangi, Waitī, Waitā.

Matariki 2017

Nine or Seven? That is the question!

The star cluster of Matariki (Pleiades) has long been associated with the Greek tale of the seven daughters of Pleione and Altas, who, upon being harassed turned into doves and flew into the heavens. In this version of the story, two stars were not included in any traditions or commemorations, rather the mythical seven were embraced.

Pleiades star cluster
Pleiades open star cluster, public domain image via Wikipedia

However history records that Māori were aware of the presence of more than seven visible stars within the cluster as noted by historian Elsdon Best in his 1955 book The Astronomical knowledge of the Māori:

“[Historian William] Colenso writes [in 1839 in the far north]: “I found that the Maori (sic) could see more stars in the Pleiades with the unaided eye than I could, for, while I could only see clearly six stars, they could see seven and sometimes eight.” (Best, 1922)

Associate Professor, Dr Rangi Matamua, Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato, is a leading Māori astronomer. He has spent over 20 years researching indigenous astronomy. Awarded the 2014 Fulbright Scholarship – Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, Rangi used the grant to study how astronomy is embedded into the cultural practices of indigenous people. That same year he was successful in leading a group of Māori astronomers in securing funding from the Royal Society – Te Apārangi (the Marsden Fund) to continue this study. It is through his Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga research and the work of the Marsden Fund project Te Mauria Whiritoi that Rangi has re-confirmed that there are nine stars that constitute the star cluster of Pleiades or Matariki not just seven stars as commonly believed.

For this reason Rangi and Te Reo Māori Language expert, Paraone Gloyne produced an article in Mana Magazine reclaiming the two missing stars and providing an insight into Te Iwa o Matariki.

“Contrary to popular belief, there are nine stars in the constellation of Matariki, rather than seven. They all hold dominion over particular areas of our environment as seen from a Māori world view. They are; Matariki, Pōhutukawa, Waitī, Waitā, Waipuna-ā-rangi, Tupuānuku, Tupuārangi, Ururangi, and Hiwa-i-te-rangi. Traditionally, our ancestors did not just look at the constellation as a whole, but rather viewed each star individually, gaining an insight into the year ahead.” (Gloyne, Matamua, Mana, May 2016)

Puanga or not to Puanga?

For some iwi, Puanga not Matariki marks the start of the New Year as it rises just before Matariki. For others Puanga is seen as the pre-cursor to the rise of Matariki. It is Puanga that foretells the fortunes of the coming of the New Year by his appearance and placement when he first rises after the first new moon. It is Matariki who confirms it through her placement and appearance when she appears three days later.

According to some oral traditions, Puanga is the older brother of Takurua his younger brother, and his pretty younger sister Matariki. Jealous of the attention Matariki gets, “the task of Puanga is to strive ahead of Matariki that he may again take possession of the year for himself.” (Puanga, Star of the Māori New Year) It is for this reason he appears prior to Matariki in the hope that he may be heralded as the bringer of the New Year, only to be overlooked with the appearance of Matariki.

Does Matariki always rise in June?

No, the last quarter of the moon cycle known as the Tangaroa nights of the moon is when Matariki rises. This can vary from year to year but is always in the cold months from May to July. This year the rise of Matariki is from 17 to 20 June while the period of Matariki is from 17 to 24 June.

Further Reading

This article was published in issue 4 of our quarterly magazine, uncover – huraina. Read it online.

Matariki – Māori New Year 2017

Matariki – the Māori New Year – will take place on Pipiri 25 June 2017. During Matariki we celebrate our unique place in the world. We give respect to the whenua on which we live, and admiration to our mother earth, Papatūānuku.

Matariki 2017 is a fresh look through old eyes at Māori oral traditions, practices and customs associated with the Māori New Year.  Over the next three years the Christchurch City Libraries will be re-introducing ‘Te Iwa o Matariki – the Nine stars of Matariki’ beginning with Te Kātao o Matariki – the water stars of Matariki, Waipuna-ā-rangi, Waitī, Waitā.

Matariki 2017

Matariki Toi – Community Art Project in the Library

Each year a community art project runs in all our libraries for all to explore their creative side. This year the project is weave a star.  Materials are supplied, all you have to do is bring your creativity.

Matariki yarn stars
Matariki star weaving

Matariki Wā Kōrero – Matariki Storytimes

In addition to our normal Storytimes we have Matariki Storytimes. Come celebrate and welcome the Māori New Year with stories, songs, rhymes and craft activities. All welcome, free of charge.

See our list of Matariki Wā Kōrero – Matariki Storytimes.

Matariki storytime at Te Kete Wānanga o Ōraka
Matariki storytime at Te Kete Wānanga o Ōraka. Shirley Library. Monday 16 June 2014. Flickr 2014-06-16-DSC04495

Matariki Wānaka, Matariki Takiura – Saturday, 17 June

Christchurch City Libraries and Kotahi Mano Kāika (KMK) host a family day at New Brighton Library. Activities will include:

  • art activities and competitions
  • Cover of Matariki: Star of the yeara presentation relating to the book by Associate Professor Dr Rangi Matamua, Matariki, The Star of the Year.
  • exploring the stars with Skyview
  • explore KMK te reo Māori resources on the library computers
  • storytelling about Te Iwa o Matariki

10:30am – 3pm
New Brighton Library

Rehua Marae Matariki Wānaka – Saturday, 24 June

Matariki celebrations continue at Rehua Marae. Stalls, waiata, workshops for the whole family to enjoy. Pop in and say kia ora to staff from Christchurch City Libraries at our library stand/table.

10am-4pm
Rehua Marae
79 Springfield Road
Christchurch

Matariki at Rehua Marae
Rehua Marae, St Albans, Christchurch. Saturday 28 June 2014. File Reference: 2014-06-28-IMG_0501

All Matariki events at the library

Our Learning Centres are offering special Matariki Connect sessions for schools, introducing students to the key concepts of Te Iwa o Matariki with a focus on the three water stars, and involving a range of fun activities. This programme is now fully booked.

Other Matariki events in Christchurch

Matariki in the Zone – Sunday, 25 June

Organised by the Avon-Ōtākaro Network – a celebration of Matariki at the Mahinga Kai Exemplar site including the opening of the Poppies commemoration garden. Activities include –

  • planting
  • carving
  • weaving
  • build your own hut
  • displays and talks

10am-2pm
Anzac Drive Reserve
Corserland St (access of New Brighton Road)

“This is what the river told me” art and writing competition

Year 1-13 pupils can submit a written work (up to 2000 words) or artwork (maximum size A3) along the theme of “This is what the river told me”. Entries close 16 June and should be emailed (for artworks a photograph of the art and dimensions/media) to kathryn.avonotakaro@gmail.com

Please include your first and last name, age, school and year.

More on Matariki

Matariki colouring in

Download these colouring in pages.

Mana - colouring in Mātauranga colouring in Ngā Mahi hou colouring in Whānau - colouring in Matariki

Matariki

Lyttelton Harbour Festival of Lights 2016

The Lyttelton Harbour Festival of Lights is an annual event of lights, music and fun celebrating the Lyttelton community, Matariki, the Māori New Year and the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.

The Festival runs over nine days from 18 to 27 June, and this year incorporates the Alliance Française Christchurch Musical Festival on opening night. The programme features a street party (the dress up theme is ‘Futuristic’), a masquerade ball, music, waiata, food and wine, live poetry performances, storytelling, and, of course, fireworks.

Festival of Lights

Highlights of the 2016 programme of events [2319 KB PDF] include:

Lyttelton Harbour Festival of Lights flyerSaturday 18 June

  • Matariki Celebration 10am – 1pm, Albion Square: Cultural performances and music.
  • Puppets at the Port St Saviour’s Church at Holy Trinity, 10am – 2:30pm: Including favourites Liz Weir, and Natural Magic
  • Grand opening cabaret, Lyttelton Arts Factory, 7.30pm (already sold out)
  • Alliance Française Christchurch Music Festival

Continue reading

A literary Matariki

Matariki, Aotearoa New Zealand New Year has arrived with the return of the star grouping of the same name, what is widely known as The Pleiades, a star cluster within the constellation of Taurus.

In some Māori traditions Matariki forms a pou or post along with Tautoru (Orion’s belt) and Takurua (Sirius). This is the post of Hine-nui-te-pō, the goddess of death, and symbolically marks the death of the old year.

The Matariki cluster, for whatever reason, has fired the imagination for millennia, appearing in poetry and stories since time immemorial. All around the world there are many traditions, legends, and stories based on this cluster of stars.

Matariki in Māori songs and poetry

The stars of Matariki make an appearance in a number of Māori songs and mōteatea (a traditional form of chant or sung poetry), in the latter it is often in a lament or remembrance of a loved one.

Such as this lament by Mere Reweti Taingunguru of Te Whanau-a-Apanui for her husband Te Whatu-a-Rangahau which opens with the lines –

Cover of Ngā MōteateaTērā Matariki huihui ana mai. / Ka ngaro rā, ē, te whetū kukume ata.

(Behold the Pleiades are clustered above. / Lost, alas, is the star that hauls forth the dawn.)

Or this one by Mihi-ki-te-kapua –

Tirohia atu nei ngā whetū, / Me ko Matariki e ārau ana; / He hōmai tau i ngā mahara / E kohi nei, whakarerea atu / Nā te roimata ka hua riringi / Tāheke ware kai aku kamo.

(I gaze up at the stars, / And the Pleiades are gathered together / Which gives rise to many thoughts / That well up within, and freely / Do the tears pour forth / And flow shamelessly from mine eyes.)

Wow. That’s almost got me a bit teary myself.

Then there’s this lament for Ngati Mutunga chiefs Te Whao and Tu-poki

Cover of Ngā mōteatea the songsKa ripa ki waho rā, e Atutahi koa, / Te whetū tārake o te rangi, / Ka kopi te kukume, / Ka hahae Matariki ē, / Puanga, Tautoru, /Nāna i kukume koutou ki te mate, ē.

(Away out yonder is Atutahi, / The star that shines apart in the heavens. / The noose was pulled taut / At the rising of Matariki, / In the company of Puanga and Tautoru. / It was thus you were all hauled down in death, alas.)

The presence or rise of Matariki is also used to indicate the time of year as in this action song of Ngati Rangiwewehi –

Mō te Matariki, e totope nei te hukarere, / Ngā taritari o Matariki.

(In the winter time, heralded now by snowstorms,  / And this cold weather of Matariki.)

Or this lament for Te Umukohukohu –

Ka puta Matariki ka rere Whānui. / Ko te tohu tēnā o te tau e!

(Matariki re-appears, Whānui starts its flight. / Being the sign of the [new] year!)

More recent examples include the song “Te Aroha” by Tuini Ngawai, written in 1960 which has the lines –

Horohia e Matariki / ki te Whenua / Te māra-matanga mo te motu e / Kia tipu he puawai honore / Mo te pani, mō te rawakore e / Mo te rawakore e

(Spread your light oh Matariki / On to Mother Earth / As a guiding light for this land / May the seed become an honoured bloom / for the poor, for the needy. / For the needy.)

The Pleiades in poetry around the world

These same stars, though called by other names have been referenced multiple times in poetry in other cultures too. In the 20th century a Japanese literary magazine mainly focused on poetry, was called “Subaru”, the Japanese name for the Pleaides/Matariki cluster.

In 16th century France there was a group of poets who called themselves “La Pleiade”, naming themselves after an even earlier group of poets from 3rd century BC Alexandria, the Alexandrian Pleiad. Another french group of poets based in Toulouse in the 14th century and made up of seven men and seven women also used the name to describe themselves.

Sappho, the greek poetess, thought to have been born around 630 BC, made at least one reference to The Pleaides in her “Midnight poem” –

Tonight I’ve watched / the moon and then / the Pleiades / go down / The night is now / half gone; youth / goes; I am / in bed alone

Industrious astronomers have used this description of the relative positions of the moon and the stars – making a guess at the rough year and place to determine which time of year the poem was written in.

The Pleiades also turn up in the poem “On the Beach at Night” by Walt Whitman

And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades.

Cover of John Milton's Paradise lostThere’s also an appearance in Book 7 of John Milton’s Paradise Lost

His longitude through Heaven’s high road; the gray
Dawn, and the Pleiades, before him danced,

And in “Locksley Hall” by Lord Tennyson

Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro’ the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.

There are also multiple references in the star cluster in the epic poetry of Homer, in The Iliad and The Odyssey.

Pleiades references in other literature

Cover of Ethan FromeOther literary associations include novels like Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome. Here Ethan describes the night sky to his cousin Mattie.

That’s Orion down yonder; the big fellow to the right is Aldebaran, and the bunch of little ones-like bees swarming-they’re the Pleiades…

In more recent times popular novelist Lucinda Riley has undertaken a series called The Seven Sisters with each book focusing on a different one of the seven sisters.

What’s your favourite mention of Matariki or the Pleiades in literature?

For more poetry about Matariki and the stars try –

Learn more about Matariki –

2016년의 겨울을 시작하며

작가 한강의 소식은 한껏 어께에 힘들어가는 일이었습니다.  지난 5월 ‘ The Vegetarian’로 2016년 Man Booker International Prize The Vegetarian최고 수상자로 선정된 작가 한강은 ‘아제아제 바라제’의 저자 한승원 작가의 딸로 2005년 ‘몽고반점’으로 이상문학상을 수상하기도했습니다. ‘바람이 분다 가라’, ‘소년이 온다’ 를 비롯한 최근 신작 ‘흰’등의 작품이 있습니다.

채식주의자 – 어린 시절의 자신의 다리를  문 개가 잔인하게 죽임을 당하고, 그 고기로 동네 잔치를 벌이던 끔찍한 기억이 꿈으로 다시 되 살아나며, 영혜이라는 여자는 폭력을 거부하기 위해 육식을 멀리하고, 죽음을 향해갑니다. 2004년 계간 ‘창작과비평’에 처음 소개된 ‘채식주의자’는 ‘몽고반점’, ‘나무 불꽃’ 등 소설 3편을 하나로 연결한 연작 소설집입니다.  폭력이라는 가볍지않은 주제와 끊임없이 고뇌하며, 작품으로 그 질문을 독자와 함께 공유하려한 작가 한강의 좋은 결과에 감사와 함께 아낌없는 박수를 보냅니다.

올 Matariki는 6월 6일이었습니다. Matariki에 대한 이해를 위해를 위해 아이들과 함께하면 좋을 책들입니다.

MatarikiThe Little Kiwi's MatarikiTā Daniel hākari matarikiThe Seven Kites of Matariki

도서관에서 준비한 Matariki 행사도 잊지마세요.