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Matariki Dawn Celebration

Kia ora Titirangi Whānau,


This year Matariki falls in the school holidays. Titirangi School will be holding its own celebration on the first Friday back, next term - Friday 21st July at 7am.

We will be inviting our community to school to share karakia, performance and kai.


Matariki - The Māori New Year. Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in midwinter and for many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year. This is a time of renewal and celebration in New Zealand that begins with the rising of the Matariki star cluster.

Iwi across New Zealand understand and celebrate Matariki in different ways and at different times. Some iwi can’t see Matariki because of the landscape, and mark the new year by a different star, Puanga (also known as Rigel).

The appearance of Matariki in the morning sky in mid-winter marks the Māori New Year, or Te Mātahi o te Tau. It signals a time to remember those who have passed, celebrate the present and plan for the future. It’s a time to spend with whānau (family) and friends – to enjoy kai (food), waiata (song), tākaro (games) and haka.

Our tupuna (ancestors) would look to Matariki for help with their harvesting. When Matariki disappeared in April/May, it was time to preserve crops for the winter season. When it re-appeared in June/July, tupuna would read the stars to predict the upcoming season – clear and bright stars promised a warm and abundant winter while hazy stars warned of a bleak winter.

Because Māori follow the Māori the maramataka (lunar calendar), not the Gregorian calendar, the dates for Matariki change every year. This year, Matariki starts on July 14th.

The story of Matariki

Matariki is a truncated version of the long name ‘Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tawhirimātea’ which translates meaning ‘the eyes of the god Tawhirimātea’. This name originates from the turmoil which occurred soon after the separation of Ranginui and Papatuānuku. Tāwhirimātea (Māori atua of wind and weather) disagreed with his brothers and did not want his parents to be separated.

When Tāne Māhuta separated their parents, Tāwhirimātea sought retribution against his brothers, and battled each of them in an epic battle. Following this, Tāwhirimātea decided to flee into the skies, to be with his father. However, before he departed, he plucked out his eyes, crushed them in his hands, and threw them into the sky in a display of rage and contempt.

The eyes of Tāwhirimātea stuck to the chest of Ranginui, and there they remain to this day as the Matariki star constellation. Hence, the name ‘Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tawhirimātea’ or ‘Mata Ariki’, which has been shortened even further to Matariki as we know it.

** We would like to acknowledge RCP for sharing the stories and history of Matariki.


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