Celebration |

Matariki, the Maori New Year as a New Zealand’s Unique

Celebration | 1 July 2022

Aotearoa New Zealand has this year celebrated Māori New Year, Matariki on 24 June. This is the first time the country has recognized Te Ao Maori (the Māori world) by making the celebration of Matariki a national holiday.

How do the Māori people signify the new year without a calendar? In maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar, the reappearance of matariki in the mid-winter night sky marks the start of a new year. 

Matariki refers to a large cluster of stars. In other lands, this large star cluster is known as the Pleiades, in the Taurus constellation. In New Zealand, it comes into view low on the north-eastern horizon, in the tail of the Milky Way, just before dawn in mid-winter, traditionally marking the start of the Māori New Year. 

When matariki disappears in April/May, it's time to preserve the plants for the winter. When reappearing in June/July, the Māori tūpuna (ancestor) would read the stars to predict the coming season –bright stars promise warm and plentiful winters while hazy stars warn of a gloomy winter. Matariki is a time for people to look up at the stars, reflect on what has gone from them and welcome something new. And, for all iwi or Māori, the importance of Matariki is expressed through proverbs and songs that associate it with the bright star Whanui or Vega.

The date of Matariki public holiday will shift each year to align with the maramataka. 

“It is a very special day for New Zealanders, and unique to New Zealand, as we acknowledge our nation’s distinctive, shared identity and the importance of tikanga Māori, Māori culture and custom. Matariki is a time for remembering the past, celebrating what we have and looking to the future. As the reappearance of the matariki stars in the night sky marks the beginning of a new year for our nation, New Zealand will again be able to welcome all visitors to New Zealand. We are reopening our borders to all visitors -tourists, business representatives, workers, families, and students from 11:59 pm on 31 July 2022.” New Zealand Ambassador to Indonesia, H.E. Kevin Burnett, ONZM said.

For international education, the border reopening builds on the earlier border class exception for international students announced in May. It means that all international students who meet entry criteria can enroll for their study in New Zealand from the end of July. 

Ambassador Burnett encouraged Indonesians to visit Aotearoa New Zealand.

“We are open for business, and we are looking forward to reconnecting with the world and being able to engage kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face, in person) I encourage all to come and experience the Kiwi manaakitanga, embrace ‘the tiaki promise’ (care for people, place, and culture) and discover the 100% Pure New Zealand for themselves. Nau mai, haere mai ki Aotearoa. Welcome to New Zealand.” Said Ambassador Burnett.