Matariki-Maori New Year

Taatai Arorangi: Matariki and the
New Year
• Traditionally Māori, and
many other cultures, used
the night sky and the stars
to tell the time and seasons.
• They also used them as
they navigated the oceans.
• The tohunga kōkōrangi
would watch for the rise of
Matariki just before dawn.
Matariki and the New Year
• Stories and legends were
ways of passing knowledge
from generation to
• Even if the cause was not
understood the story
explained observed events.
• There may be many
versions of a similar story.
• Here is one story of Matariki
• The rising of Matariki the Maori New
Year and signalled a time for
connecting, giving thanks to the land,
sea and sky, a time for the
community to come together to
farewell those departed and
acknowledge the year gone.
• Matariki was also a time
to turn to the future,
welcoming the new
generation to the world
and planning for the year
• It is universal to Maori and Pakeha,
because we all live with the opposite
seasons to the Northern hemisphere.
• Matariki could be added
to our celebrations
calendar. It provides us
with something that's
• The crops were planted according to the
appearance of the Matariki star cluster.
• If the stars were clear and bright, it was a sign
of a favourable and productive season ahead,
and planting would begin in September.
• If the stars appeared hazy and closely
bunched together, a cold winter was in store
and planting was put off until October.
• The Matariki were
honoured by the Maori.
The heliacal rising of that
asterism was greeted by
women with song and
• In other areas the
cosmic rising of Rigel
marked the beginning of
the new year with a
similar festival marking
the event.
The Helical rising of the Stars
• New star patterns
become visible as we
travel around the Sun.
• Matariki is in Taurus
Heliacal risings occur after a star has been behind the Sun for a time
and it is just returning to visibility.
One morning, just before dawn, the star rises after its absence behind the
Sun and is seen for a moment, then lost in the rising Sun’s glare.
That one special morning is called the star's heliacal rising.
Circumpolar stars will NOT work!
• Not all stars have
heliacal risings
because some stars
are always above
the horizon and are
called circumpolar
• Only certain stars
rise, flash and
twinkle in the predawn glow.
El Niño or La Niña- watch out!
• Clear, bright stars = a good
• Hazy and bunched together=
cold winter, planting delayed.
• The upper atmosphere may
indicate long term weather
• Astute, practiced observers
can see the difference from
year to year.
• Can you?
The rising position of the Sun in a year
Looking west this shows the Sun setting - from mid-winter through
the equinox to mid-summer (Northern Hemisphere view).
What dates are these?
The Pleiades/Matariki
star cluster facts
• A cluster of around
1000 stars that are
about 440 light years
away (our Sun is 8 light
minutes away)
• The blue color is
caused by blue light
being scattered by dust.
• The stars in the
Pleiades are young100 million years old about 1/50th the age of
our Sun
•Merope, one of the brightest stars
in the Pleiades- where the
nebulosity is caused by a chance
encounter between an open star
cluster and a molecular cloud.
29.5 days makes a “Moonth”
Maori followed a lunar calendar: Te Maramataka
New Moon is when the Moon is between Sun and the Earth
First quarter is when it has moved one fourth of it’s way around the Earth but it looks like a semi-circle and many call it a “half Moon”!
• Full Moon comes half way through the cycle (Sun, Earth & Moon Alignment.
• 29.5 days is not a factor of 365- which is why our months are a mix
from 28 day to 31 day lengths
In the Southern Hemisphere the sunlit part moves from the left to
the right. C O D (C first quarter, O full Moon, D last quarter)
Calendars, clocks
and Time
• How many trips around the Sun have you made?
• What season were you born in?
How many days, weeks, and “moonths”
have you lived through?
How do you know?
Is it easy to count how many Moon
cycles you have lived through?
Is it years x12 or years x13 ?
So how many Moonths old are you?
Near, Far and IN-between.
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