Celebrating Matariki

Celebrating Matariki

2023 marks the first year Matariki is considered as a public holiday in Aotearoa, New Zealand on Friday, July 14. The theme for 2023 is Matariki Kāinga Hokia – Matariki Calls You Home.

This year, everyone is encouraged to return to their whānau and their people, wherever and whoever that might be. We want people to journey back home and celebrate the feast and be with whānau and friends.

Furthermore, the theme is also underpinned with important environmental messages. The various stars in Matariki invite you to return to where you are from and reconnect with the mountains, rivers, ocean and land. It reminds us of our responsibility to the places we call home.

So what does Matariki mean?

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars, that rises in midwinter and for many Māori, heralds the start of the new year. When Matariki rises, it calls us to cluster together to celebrate our world, our home and our people by remembering our loved ones, celebrating who we are today and who we hope to be in the future.

The three key principles for Matariki are:

Matariki Hunga Nui | Remembrance
Honouring those we have lost since the last rising of Matariki.

Matariki Ahunga Nui | Celebrating the Present
Gathering together to give thanks for what we have.

Matariki Manako Nui | Looking to the Future
Looking forward to the promise of a new year.


There are nine stars in the Matariki cluster, Matariki is the mother, and the other stars are her children:

  • Tupuānuku is associated with food from the ground
  • Tupuārangi is associated with food found in the tops of the trees
  • Waitī is associated with freshwater and water creatures
  • Waitā is associated with food harvested from the sea
  • Waipunarangi is associated with the rain
  • Ururangi is associated with nature and the winds
  • Pōhutukawa connects Matariki to those who have passed
  • Hiwa-i-te-rangi the wishing star that we send our dreams and desires to

Early in the morning, just before dawn, is the optimum time to view the Matariki cluster.

How can you celebrate in Wanaka?

This year’s celebration is a great whānau event and is sure to
warm a cold winter’s night! Spectators will be able to enjoy whakangahau (performances), hangi and fun, free activities that represent Te Kāhui o Matariki (star cluster). More info visit Kahu Youth Events

The event will take place on Friday the 14th of July from 2pm onwards down at the Dinosaur Park and Roys Bay Reserve. Everyone is welcome!

Celebrate at home with these beautiful Matariki themed books, jewellery and more.

Wanaka Tree Winter Night | Matariki Goddess Jewellery | Matariki Book | Matariki & Southern Cross Tea Towel


Get the kids involved in the Māori language.

He Tae, He Āhuaranga, He Tau Board Book | Ngā Manu Māori Board Book | Maori & English Crayons | Te Reo Maori Memory Game | Maori Wooden Kiwi Puzzle

For more learning Matariki resources visit here.

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