Matariki: The Maori New Year
Traditionally, Matariki is the period of time referred to by Maori, to mark the changing of the year. It is a time to reflect upon the previous year and plan for the next. The common Maori translation of Matariki is “eyes of the god”.
According to myth, when Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, were separated by their children, the god of the winds, Tāwhirimātea, became so angry that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens.
Since this time, every year at a time around mid-winter, a cluster of stars called Matariki rises to mark the new year.
However, the name Matariki is not only used to describe the entire cluster of stars, but a specific single star within the group. The total number of stars in the cluster varies too. Some Maori talk of Matariki and her six children, and others talk of eight children. Regardless, each star is connected to the Maori world in its own special way.