Matariki is the name of a star cluster in the constellation of Taurus, commonly also known as Pleiades, which rises on the horizon towards the end of May each year and heralds Te Mātahi o te Tau, the Māori New Year. The arrival of Matariki signals that it is time for people to gather, honour the dead, celebrate the present, and make plans for the future.

The word “Matariki” is an abbreviation of “Ngā mata o te ariki o Tāwhirimātea”, or "the eyes of the god Tāwhirimātea".  Matariki was taken as a wife by Rehua (Antares) and she gave birth to eight children, each star having a unique purpose and defined role in ao Māori.

  • Matariki (Alcyone): signifies reflection, hope, our connection to the environment, and the gathering of people. Matariki is also connected to the health and wellbeing of people.

  • Pōhutukawa (Sterope/Asterope): connected to those who have passed on, especially those who have passed since the last rising of Matariki.

  • Tupuānuku (Pleione): connected with everything that grows within the soil to be harvested or gathered for food.

  • Tupuārangi (Atlas): connected with food from the sky or up in the trees – birds, fruits and berries.

  • Waitī (Maia): connected to fresh water ecosystems.

  • Waitā (Taygeta): associated with the ocean and the food sources within it.

  • Waipunarangi (Electra): connected with the rain.

  • Ururangi (Merope): connected with the winds.

  • Hiwa-i-te-rangi (Celaeno): connected with granting our wishes and realising our aspirations for the coming year.

Traditionally falling at the end of the harvest, Matariki was a time of abundant food and feasting. Matariki marks a period of reflection and remembrance, celebration and festivities, and focus on the promise of a new season. The celebration of Matariki is guided by three major principles:

  • Remembrance – Honouring those we have lost since the last rising of Matariki

  • Celebrating the present – Gathering together to give thanks for what we have

  • Looking to the future – Looking forward to the promise of a new year

Today, people all across Aotearoa New Zealand gather to celebrate Matariki. These gatherings are a time to mourn lost loved ones, share kai, and celebrate.  This year, as well as the public holiday and major events on 16 July, there are a huge number of other community events and celebrations around the Waikato for people to enjoy. You can find out more by visiting the Matariki ki Waikato Festival website: Home - Matariki ki Waikato Festival (

Background information from