Matariki, or Puanga for some iwi, is the integral time in the Māori Lunar calendar when a cluster of nine stars become visible in our sky during Winter, signifying the New Year. This year, Matariki is observed from 13 – 20 July.
Matariki was an important time for Māori ancestors to guide their harvest methods, for example, the disappearance of Matariki in late Autumn meant Māori would preserve their food for the colder months. Matariki was also a predictor for the year to come, as Māori often associated brighter stars with a Winter that would be warmer and more plentiful.
Each star has different qualities: Matariki (the star) is connected to people in terms of hope, the environment, and health and wellbeing. Pōhutukawa is connected to those who have passed; our ancestors. Waitī is connected to fresh water and the food within it. Waitā is connected to the ocean and the food within it. Waipuna-ā-rangi is connected to the rain. Tupuānuku is connected to crops which grow from the land. Tupuārangi is connected to what grows up in trees, such as fruits and birds. Ururangi is connected to winds, and lastly, Hiwa-i-te-Rangi is connected with granting wishes and aspirations.
The colonisation and urbanisation of Māori has kept Matariki out of the mainstream, but there has been a revitalisation of Māori culture in the 21st century, and the significance of Matariki is getting it’s overdue respect. As well as tending to crops, this period is about celebrating our lives and culture, spending time with loved ones, having a feed, reflecting on ourselves and those who have passed on, and looking towards the future. Matariki is our mid-year opportunity to forget our failed ‘New Year's Resolutions’ and start our year for real. Let’s be honest, 2020 is fake. Matariki is our chance to get it right this time.
You may ask, how can I get it right? How can I start the Māori New Year with a bang? And most importantly, how can I fix my shambles of a life in the mess we call 2020? Fair questions, I’ll do my best to answer these concerns.
- Cleanse Your Body
Having a shower goes without being said - at least I hope so. By this I mean give up the rark over this time. I know, an absolutely mad suggestion, but giving up the piss for a bit might give your body the opportunity to replenish itself and recover from endless nights of drinking Nitro and Billy Mavs. Not only will you have the opportunity to be more hydrated, get into a healthy sleep schedule and make your kidney super happy, but you’ll have some extra money to spend on food, which is what Matariki is all about.
Treat yourself and splurge on some Pad Thai or a roast for the flatmates. Maybe you could shout a family pack from KFC with extra coleslaw so you seem super healthy. Whatever food you decide to buy with your leftover onits money, your organs will thank you.
- Call Your Whānau
Being around your family and loved ones around your kāinga is a huge part of the Māori New Year, and unfortunately for a lot of us this isn’t possible. But FaceTime was made for a reason. There is no excuse to ghost your mates this week. It doesn’t have to be deep and meaningful – even just talking about what you had for dinner, or that you gave up the piss while your body recovers from years of neglect. Ask them their plans for the Māori New Year and let them know you’re gonna be a better person this time round. In the words of my dad; “call your nan, don’t be a dick”.
- Realise Your Goals and Make Them Happen
It may be easier said than done, but forming goals can be motivating as long as they aren’t too crazy. Resolutions can cause unnecessary pressure and almost always let you down. Forget goals like growing four inches in two months, or getting ‘Hannah Montana’ famous by age 16. Perhaps you can make goals like doing three hours of study a day instead of playing Fortnite with the boys, eating a broccoli, getting a good grade in a certain class, going to the gym a couple times a week, or spending more time on your wellbeing.
In terms of making them happen, you could have a chat to Hiwa-i-te-Rangi real quick and ask them to grant your wishes. Hopefully they can get you that B+ you need to get into postgrad or solve your intergenerational trauma. For real though, look at the stars and let them know what’s up. They’re pretty cool.
- Buy Māori Made
I don’t know about you, but this year has robbed my money, I have no idea where she went. But as the New Year begins and literally everyone seems to be turning 21, direct your money towards Māori owned and made businesses to boost their economy and support the locals. Buying Māori puts your fake StudyLink pūtea (money) straight into the pockets of tangata whenua. There are no disadvantages.
Get your friends some mean Māori gifts for their birthday and treat yourself along the way. Do your research first. Join the Facebook group ‘Buy Māori Made’ and definitely do not take out your extra course related costs and definitely do not spend it all on their products.
- Educate Yourselves on Te Ao Māori
Reflection and planning is a key part of Matariki, but how about learning something new about the Māori world. Gain knowledge on a topic that peaks your interest. You could start with Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Treaty’s repercussions. Here’s a piece of information surprisingly little people know: It was signed in 1840. Who knew?
Start little, do 5 minutes or 50 minutes of reading. Look into Matariki, learn a couple phrases in te reo Māori, or for fellow Māori, find information from outside of your iwi that may broaden your perspective on a topic. Let’s get some big brain energy going. We love growth.
- Time Travel to Pre-Colonial Aotearoa
I guess the only way we can really experience how our ancestors celebrated Matariki, and consequently become our best selves, is to jump in a time machine and throw your eyes around pre-colonial Aotearoa. Sing some waiata, have a feast, and harvest the crops. Soak up life without toxic masculinity and white supremacy. If you happen to find a time machine, let me know. Otherwise move on to the next suggestion.
- Overthrow the Government
This one is crucial to fixing your life throughout Matariki. Imagine going back to a world with Māori autonomy and respect towards successful Māori self-governance. Unfortunately, it’s pretty unlikely that we could take down a system such as the New Zealand Government. Therefore instead, send our leaders an email telling them to consider making Matariki an official holiday, just in case they decide to choose a bogus Eurocentric one instead. Hear me out Aunt Cindy, surely give some recognition to the Māori Lunar calendar and let us have some me-time to celebrate how stunning Matariki is. Thanks in advance.