Matariki in New Zealand

Matariki, also known as the Māori New Year, is a significant event celebrated in New Zealand. Matariki is the Māori name for the Pleiades star cluster, which becomes visible in the early morning sky during mid-winter in New Zealand. The appearance of Matariki in the sky signifies the beginning of the Māori New Year.

Matariki usually occurs in late May or early June each year, depending on the lunar calendar. The exact date changes annually, as it is determined by the first sighting of the Matariki constellation after the new moon.


Matariki has been celebrated in New Zealand for centuries, as it holds great importance in Māori culture and tradition. The Māori people have observed the appearance of the Matariki constellation since their arrival in Aotearoa (New Zealand) over 1,000 years ago. Matariki was traditionally a time to honor the dead, celebrate new life, and plan for the year ahead. The event lost much of its significance during the 20th century, but in recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest and pride in Matariki and its unique cultural importance to New Zealand.


National customs for Matariki in New Zealand

Matariki celebrations in New Zealand often involve a combination of traditional Māori customs and modern festivities. Some national customs include:

  • Kite flying: Kites are flown as a symbol of connection between the heavens and the earth, and to celebrate the wind and elements.
  • Art exhibitions and performances: Matariki-themed art exhibitions, music, and dance performances are held across the country to showcase Māori culture and heritage.
  • Matariki-themed workshops: Workshops and educational events teach people about Māori customs, such as carving, weaving, and traditional Māori language classes.
  • Fireworks displays: Fireworks are used to celebrate the stars and the beginning of the Māori New Year.

Local customs for Matariki in New Zealand

Local customs for Matariki can vary between different regions and communities in New Zealand. Some local customs include:

  • Community feasts: Many communities come together to share food and stories, with traditional Māori cuisine often featuring on the menu.
  • Dawn ceremonies: Some Māori tribes hold dawn ceremonies to welcome Matariki, with prayers, songs, and speeches.
  • Planting trees or crops: Matariki is viewed as a time for growth and renewal, so some communities participate in planting trees or crops to mark the beginning of the new year.


Matariki is a unique and integral part of New Zealand's cultural heritage, with its blend of ancient Māori customs and contemporary celebrations. This event not only marks the beginning of the Māori New Year but also serves as a reminder of the rich cultural history of New Zealand. As Matariki gains recognition and appreciation both nationally and internationally, it continues to bring people together to celebrate and honor the land, the sky, and the diverse cultures that make up the fabric of Aotearoa.