April 29, 2024

All about Matariki

Auckland Astronomical Adventures NZ

What is Matariki Day?

Matariki, also known as the Māori New Year, is a significant cultural event for the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand. It marks the appearance of the cluster of stars known as the Pleiades or Seven Sisters in the sky, which typically occurs in late May or early June in the Southern Hemisphere. Matariki is celebrated with various cultural and spiritual practices, including gatherings, feasting, storytelling, and reflection. It holds great importance as a time for remembering the past, celebrating the present, and looking towards the future.

How to find Matariki

Matariki, also known as the Pleiades star cluster, holds significant cultural and astronomical importance for many indigenous peoples of the South Pacific, including the Māori people of New Zealand. Here’s how you can find Matariki:

  1. Know the timing: Matariki rises in the New Zealand skies in late May or early June. This period marks the start of the Māori New Year.
  2. Look to the northeast horizon: Matariki rises in the northeastern sky just before dawn. You’ll need to wake up early and find a location with a clear view of the horizon to spot it.
  3. Identify the cluster: Matariki appears as a cluster of bright stars. In some traditions, there are seven stars visible, while in others, only six are seen easily with the naked eye. These stars are Alcyone, Merope, Electra, Maia, Taygeta, Celaeno, and possibly Sterope or Asterope.
  4. Consider the cultural significance: In Māori culture, Matariki’s appearance heralds the start of a new year and is a time for reflection, celebration, and planting new crops. It’s a time for communities to come together, share stories, and celebrate new beginnings.
  5. Learn from experts: If you’re unsure about spotting Matariki on your own, consider joining a local stargazing event or talking to experts at a planetarium or observatory. They can provide guidance on finding Matariki and share cultural insights about its significance.

Remember, while Matariki holds special importance for Māori and other indigenous peoples, it’s a beautiful celestial event that anyone can appreciate.

Have a question? We’re here to help.

email support@snm.nz or call us on 0800 76 62 66