Kā mihi o te Tau Hou Māori!
Thank you to Fern from Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu for this blog of Māori New Year.
Puaka Matariki is the mid-winter Māori New Year observed after the rising of the star Puaka, the constellation Matariki and the following new moon.
In 2014, the official rising is this Saturday. Heoi anō, Kā mihi o te Tau Hou Māori ki a tātou katoa – Happy Māori New Year to all of us!
Matariki is the Māori name for the small cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, in the Taurus constellation. In one tradition, Matariki is the mother surrounded by her six daughters, Tupu-a-nuku, Tupu-a-rangi, Waitī, Waitā, Waipuna-a-rangi and Ururangi. One account explains that Matariki and her daughters appear to assist the sun, Te Rā, whose winter journey from the north has left him weakened.
Matariki literally means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki). Some say that when Rakinui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother were separated by their offspring, the god of the winds, Tāwhirimātea, became angry, tearing out his eyes and hurling them into the heavens.
As the year moves from autumn towards its shortest winter day, the sunrise moves north along the eastern horizon. When the sunrise reaches Matariki, it turns around and starts moving south again. This effect can be seen everywhere on the planet and makes the Matariki stars famous world-wide.
In Greece, several important temples face straight towards Matariki. According to Greek myth, the Pleiades are the seven daughters of Pleione and Atlas – Electra, Maia, Taygete, Alcyone, Celaeno, Asterope and Merope. While wandering through the woods one day, they were spied by Orion, who gave chase. To save them from Orion’s dishonorable intentions, Zeus transformed them into stars and placed them in the sky. A number of ancient temples on the Acropolis in Athens face the direction where the Pleiades rise.
In Japan the world rally car Subaru is named after the Matariki stars.
He whakataukī – a proverb
Puaka/Puanga kai rau. Ka hua ai kā pua, koia ko Puaka. An abundance of food at Puaka, when the blossoms become fruit, that is Puaka.
This is directly connected to the abundance of food in the autumn months and to ensure that the cold season is seen in a positive light. This statement also acknowledges the key indicators of the summer gathering of resources like flax to process ready for weaving in the winter months. Added to this is the gathering of food during autumn to ensure that the storage pits are full for the cold months ahead. Puanga festivities start the year with the fruiting of the miro tree which ensures that the kererū is fat and ready to be caught.
Nō reira e hoa mā, Haere mai i ruka i te tuarā nui o Awatea koi waiho koe hai tāwai i kā rā o tō oraka - akona te reo Maōri i nāianei. Ko te reoreo a Kea ki uta. Ko te whakataki mai a Toroa ki tai. And so my friends, success comes to those who prepare well and put in effort. Least you regret it later – learn the Māori language now. We all have something to contribute.