Matariki The Star
Matariki is the star which is connected to well-being and is, at times, viewed as an omen of good fortune and health.
Te Mara Tautane
Historically, many Maori would plant a sacred garden at the rising of Matariki. It was known as “te mara tautane”. All the produce grown within te mara tautane were offered to Rongo, the Maori god of cultivation, and to the star Matariki.
A kumara, for example, might be offered to Tupuanuku, and a kererū or another bird from the forest offered to Tupuarangi. Likewise an eel or freshwater fish would represent Waiti, and some form of shellfish or sea life would be chosen for Waita. Only the best foods would be offered.
Matariki would gather the offerings from below and feast upon them. “Nga kai a Matariki nana i ao ake ki runga”: “the food of Matariki that is scooped up with both hands”. Matariki has accepted the offering and this will ensure it will return next year to bestow its bounty upon the world.
Here's a short list of native plants Maori use for medicinal purposes, many of which are often found in your own garden. They help create wellness and good health.
A versatile herb and one of the most important in Māori medicine. Traditionally used as: antiseptic for cuts and wounds, chewed to relieve toothache, stomach and rheumatic pain, to treat skin disorders and as an insecticide.
A small tree with red-blotched yellowy-green leaves. Traditionally Maori used the leaves to treat skin diseases. It's an antiseptic, and still used today for wounds, cuts and bruises
- this plant has mauve-tinged white flowers that appear on stems up to 15cm long
- Koromiko is steeped in water, like tea – to treat gastrointestinal problems (a sore stomach)
- the plant's main active constituents are tannins which, when applied to the skin, can help to stop bleeding and help to keep infections contained
- is easily identified by its purple flowers
- the leaves and bark are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal, and are used in creams and ointments for inflamed, itchy conditions, like eczema
- historically, the leaves were used like a Band-Aid
- is a variety of tree, rich in mucilaginous polysaccharides, which give it a soothing quality, relieving coughs and digestive upsets, irritations and inflammation
- it works well for such conditions as asthma, bronchitis, gastritis and peptic ulcers, among other things
Plant a Plant
Will you plant a New Zealand native in recognition of Matariki? Perhaps the whole class can work together, and grow a sacred garden?
Here's a great activity to promote wellness. A lesson in making Kawakawa Balm. This balm is perfect for soothing irritated skin, and for dry lips too. You can make Kawakawa Balm for your friends and family.