Matariki is a significant event in Aotearoa New Zealand. “In the final days of May each year, a cluster of tiny stars intermittently twinkles as it rises in the North-East horizon. 500 stars make up the cluster, but only seven can be seen clearly with the naked eye here in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The cluster of stars remains present right through to March, when it disappears from the sky for two months during autumn, before rising once again in the dawn sky”. To astronomers this star cluster is known as Pleiades but to the Maori people of New Zealand, it is Matariki ‘tiny eyes’, or ‘eyes of God’.
The universal theme of Matariki is that it is the beginning of a new life cycle and celebration of the traditional Maori New Year, which is typically recognised by the next new moon after the appearance of Matariki. Whangarei has a tremendous opportunity as a district with strong Maori representation to come together as a community and celebrate this special event with vigour.