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Happy Matariki! The Māori New Year celebrates new life and remembers the past

​Matariki was marked mid-winter when the storehouses were full after harvest time and people began to plan for the future. It was a festive ocassion marked by singing, dancing and feasting. Kites were often flown to reach up to the stars above. Matariki was also a time when the elders would pass on all the knowledge of the past to the young people. teaching them about the cycle of harvesting and gathering of resources. It was also a time for story-telling and art and craft such as weaving, carving and kapa haka.

Matariki is the Māori name for a cluster of stars known by many different names to different people all over the world. The Japanese know it as Subaru, the Hawaiian people call it Makahiki, the Ancient Greeks knew it as Pleiades and often showed it as ‘the Seven Sisters’. The name ‘Matariki’ means either ‘the eyes of God’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (Mata riki) and in Māori mythology tells the story of Tawhirimatea, the god of storms, becoming so angry that he pulled out his own eyes and threw them into the sky after his parents Papatūanuku the earth mother and Ranginui the sky father, were separated by his siblings. There are many other myths and legends about Matariki and today it it celebrated in many ways, such as planting new trees, playing traditional games, weaving, and sharing of kai.