Matariki public holiday: Booklet aims to empower more New Zealanders to celebrate

7:16 am on 12 May 2023
Matariki star cluster

Te Rā Aro ki a Matariki will be officially celebrated on Friday, 14 July this year. Photo: Unsplash / Anders Drange

The path towards the rising of Matariki has been laid at an event in Takapō (Lake Tekapo) on Thursday.

A booklet containing karakia for each of the nine stars of Matariki was launched at the Dark Sky Project, which will be distributed to schools and communities across Aotearoa.

Mātauranga Matariki chief advisor professor Rangiānehu Mātāmua said after the first Matariki public holiday last year, there was a huge interest in people wanting to learn the ceremonies and traditions of Matariki.

People did not need 20 tohunga (experts) and 35 minutes of karakia to observe Matariki, Mātāmua said, and the booklet would help whānau partake in their own ceremonies at home.

"We're hoping that people who are interested are able to pick it up and do it within their homes ... just come together as whānau and celebrate [Matariki] and use this as perhaps a platform to facilitate the ceremony and the celebrations they have at home."

Tūhoe astronomer Rangi Matamua is the Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize winner for 2019.

Professor Rangiānehu Mātāmua Photo: Supplied

Mātāmua said this year, they were trying to to embed the main themes of Matariki - remembering those who had passed, celebrating those still here, and planning for the year ahead - within the national consciousness.

"The challenge really is to embed those major themes within the holiday and also really to encourage people to get out and celebrate; celebrate our environment, celebrate who we are, celebrate the uniqueness of this holiday."

Mātāmua said he was fortunate to have a connection to the Dark Sky project and with the local Rūnanga who hosted the event.

In 2023, Te Rā Aro ki a Matariki will be officially celebrated on Friday, 14 July.

The karakia booklet can be found at the Matariki website.

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