By Courtenay Scott-Hill - Tomorrow is an exciting day for all New Zealanders, as it’s the first time that Matariki is celebrated as a public holiday in Aotearoa!
Mid winter marks the beginning of the New Year for Māori and is heralded in by a cluster of stars reappearing in our night sky. Traditionally, Matariki marks a time to reflect on the past, celebrate the present, and plan for the future.
The interesting thing about Matariki is that there isn’t one set way to celebrate. Each iwi has their own interpretation and rituals to acknowledge this annual celestial affair. Typically though, Matariki is acknowledged through ritual bonfires, offerings to farewell the dead, waiata, and the sharing of kai.
There are three overarching themes: remembrance, celebration and fertility.
Matariki marks a time to remember those who have passed away. The first sightings of the Matariki star cluster are typically marked with expressions of grief for those who have died since their last appearance.
Once grief has been acknowledged, Matariki is a time to be thankful and celebrate! The time leading up to Matariki is typically a time of harvest and storing resources to prepare for the coming winter. Now that winter has arrived, Matariki is a time of gratitude for the abundant bounty which has been gathered.
The theme of fertility is then acknowledged by using the clarity of the stars to predict the fertility of the coming year. The brighter the Matariki cluster shines in the sky, the more fertile and abundant the crops of the coming year will be.
For me personally, I am hoping to acknowledge this sacred, annual new beginning by looking upward at the stars to express my gratitude for the abundance in my life, and to reflect on my intentions for the year to come.
Interestingly, Matariki is the first nature-centered public holiday to be celebrated in New Zealand. Similar to The Good Registry’s mission, Matariki is all about preserving and protecting what we all have in common – our precious environment. Māori have always understood that their lives depended on them maintaining a strong connection to the physical world and caring for nature. This is demonstrated through each Matariki star having a particular meaning which closely resonates with both the spiritual and natural world.
At The Good Registry, we proudly support the mahi of a number of kaupapa Māori charities such as Para Kore, Māori Literature Trust and Whenua Warrior. Para Kore provides waste reduction education and support so that we can all tread lighter on our Earth, Māori Literature Trust works to empower and promote Māori writers and stories, and Whenua Warrior is on a mission to ensure food sovereignty throughout New Zealand through the establishment of edible food gardens. To celebrate Matariki, why not donate to one of these fantastic charities?
However you find yourself celebrating Matariki, we hope you are filled with gratitude for the abundance in your life, and set some meaningful intentions for the coming year.
“Titoro whakamuri kōkiri whakamua” - “look back and reflect, so you can move forward”.