Matariki in New Zealand in 2022

Matariki in New Zealand in 2022
Image by Greg Rakozy , via Unsplash

  How long until Matariki?
  Dates of Matariki in New Zealand
2022 New Zealand Fri, Jun 24 National Holiday

Matariki is named after the bright stars of the Pleiades star cluster, which rise in the winter night sky each year.

When is Matariki?

Matariki is a public holiday in New Zealand. It falls in either June or July and will operate on a "moveable feast" basis, according to the newly appointed chair of the Government’s advisory group on the holiday, Dr Rangiānehu Matamua.

Making Matariki a new public holiday was one of the first election promises made by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Labour during the 2020 general election campaign.

“Matariki will be a distinctly New Zealand holiday; a time for reflection and celebration, and our first public holiday that recognises Te Ao Māori,” Jacinda Ardern said.

What is Matariki?

Matariki is the Māori name for the Pleiades star cluster. Before sunrise during New Zealand’s winter, the cluster is visible as a faint sparkle of tiny dots when you look towards the northeast horizon. It rises during Pipiri (June/July) and marks the beginning of the Māori new year. Generally, the Māori acknowledge nine main stars in the group.

The word is an abbreviation of Ngā Mata o te Ariki (Eyes of God) in reference to Tāwhirimātea, the god of the wind and weather. In the story of creation, Tāne Mahuta (god of the forest) separated his parents Ranginui and Papatūānuku, and his brother Tāwhirimātea got upset and tore out his eyes, crushed them into pieces and thew them into the sky.

Traditionally, Maori iwi, or communities, would gather together at night during a time of the constellation's prominence, making use of the period between harvests to celebrate and make offerings for a bountiful future.

When Matariki disappeared in April/May, it was time to preserve crops for the winter season. When it re-appeared in June/July its appearance was said to predict the success of the season ahead; clear bright stars are a good omen and hazy stars predict a cold, harsh winter. The brightness of each individual star predicts the fortunes of a specific thing that star represents, such as the wind or food that grows in trees.

Translate this page