Special Days

Matariki – Māori New Year

Matariki is the name given by Maori to the Pleiades group of stars. They can be seen, low on the north-eastern horizon just before dawn, and are usually visible around the end of the month of May. Following this event, the first full moon after the stars have been sighted marks the beginning of the festival of Matariki.

Celebrations and events take place all over Aotearoa. It’s a time for traditional sports and games, and kite flying which is once again becoming an important way to celebrate the festival.


New Zealand History online

Matariki provides a great opportunity to explore the ways that people pass on aspects of their culture and heritage. Since the beginning of the 21st century there has been a revival in Matariki celebrations.

Te Ara Encyclopedia

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter and for many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year.

Museum of New Zealand : Te Papa

Check out this link for star facts about Matariki.

Museum of New Zealand :Te Papa

There are many legends about the star cluster Matariki. One of the most popular is that the star Matariki is the whaea (mother), surrounded by her six daughters, Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi, Waipunarangi, Waitī and Waitā, and Ururangi.

Children’s non-fiction

Celebrating Matariki. Libby Hakaraia

Includes information about Matariki, with a star chart and explains how Matariki relates to other areas such as fishing, growing crops and the gathering of birds.

Games of Nanny Miro. David Hill

Nanny Miro explains to one of her mokopuna, what life was like when she was young, and the games they played. Text in English and Maori.

Illustrated encyclopedia of Maori myth and legend. Margaret Orbell

A detailed guide to Maori myths and legends, religious beliefs, folklore and history.

Maori kites : te manu tukutuku. Bob Maysmor

Covers the history and traditions, techniques and materials of the ancient kites and describes how contemporary artists and kite-makers have developed the art.

Matariki : the Maori New Year. Libby Hakaraia

An introduction to the star group Matariki, known in other cultures by names including the Pleiades and the Seven Sisters, Matariki featured strongly in pre-European New Zealand.

Stories from our night sky. Melanie Drewery

A collection of stories and poems drawn from traditional Māori folklore -- from the legends of Matariki, Rona and the Moon, and more.

Fiction and Picture Books

Matariki (English). Melanie Drewery

A family celebrate the Maori New Year and talk about what Matariki means to different people.

Seven stars of Matariki. Toni Rolleston-Cummins

When Mitai's seven handsome brothers are bewitched by seven beautiful wahine, Mitai seeks advice and learns that the women are patupaiarehe and must be cast far away. They are given to Urutengangana, the god of the stars, who places them in the far away heavens. Yet once a year, at winter solstice, he allows them to shine in the Eastern sky.

Scoop and Scribe search for the seven stars of Matariki. Tommy Kapai Wilson

Scoop and Scribe are two young reporters searching for the secret of Matariki. This search takes them around New Zealand as a mystical kaumatua takes them to find the seven stars of Matariki.

Adult Non-Fiction

Celebrating the southern seasons : rituals for Aoteaora. Juliet Batten

Brings rituals and ceremonies down to earth and closer to home by showing how the traditional European festivals we celebrate are best if done in tune with the seasons, including Matariki.

Māori agriculture. Elsdon Best

Explains about Maori agriculture practices and rituals associated, includes information about Matariki.

Night skies above New Zealand. Vicki Hyde

Explains about astronomy in Southern Skies and the Pleiades group of stars.

Stonehenge Aotearoa : the complete guide. Richard Hall

A guide to New Zealand’s only henge, a full-scale working adaptation of Stonehenge.