Kaupapa o te marama – Topic of the month
Matariki – The Māori new yearMatariki is the Maori name for a group of seven stars known as the Pleiades star cluster. Some people think of Matariki as a mother star with six daughters, and it is often referred to as the Seven Sisters. Others think that Matariki are the ‘eyes of the god’. When Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, were separated by their children the god of wind, Tāwhirimātea, became angry, tearing out his eyes and hurling them into the heavens. There are many other legends surrounding Matariki that have significance to the stars and the time of year. Matariki is the Māori New Year!
Stars were what guided the first waka to Aotearoa and dictated every aspect of life – from planting and food gathering, to when hui and celebrations were held. Matariki signals the changing of the season, a very important time in ancient Māori life.
Āku whakaaro – My thoughts
These days I believe some continue to celebrate traditions and old ways but we are also creating and developing a new appreciation and new traditions for this special time of year, here in Aotearoa.
I like to think it signifies a time to gather with whanau and friends. To acknowledge the year gone by, to remember those who have passed, and to turn our eye to the new year ahead. It is a time for reflection, a time to give thanks to the earth that sustains us and a time for new beginnings.
New traditions and te reo in our whare
Last year, at this time, tāku tamāhine and I read the books I now stock. Each one we enjoyed and they proved their value. They got me thinking especially about whānau, values and traditions.One particular book Matariki
by Melanie Drewery played a big part in what we were personally going through as a family… in the story they explain that during Matariki they sometimes sang waiata that sounded sad, these were for people they had loved that had passed away. In May last year I lost my Dad suddenly and my eldest daughter had her first experience of death. We cried and talked everything through at her level and she coped amazingly and resiliently. From the particular passage of the story I mentioned, she immediately related it to what was going on in our lives and she led a conversation about singing songs for Grandad and keeping his memory alive. This was something that touched me very deeply. A young child coming out with such beautiful and thoughtful words and understanding of such a sad time.I have to say, I really love books, I have a real passion for books. They open the world to so many thoughts, possibilities and understanding. I especially love the way they can be used for so many purposes. The books about Matariki helped us on our journey of reflection and acceptance.During the same time with other regular everyday experiences and considering what new traditions I wanted to encourage in our young whānau. I felt it was important for us to remain positive and to count our blessings, I particularly wanted to promote an attitude of gratitude in our whare…So the idea that called to me was to start “He tīa whakawhetai” (a blessing jar).
We washed jars we had used at home and we spent time decorating our tīa whakawhetai with stickers
, just the way we wanted them. Then at the end of the day (usually at dinner time) we chatted as a whānau and we said at least one thing we felt grateful about. To be honest as the time went by our daughter wanted to put notes in the jar ALL the time!I introduced the tīa (jar) in te reo to increase some vocab but we wrote things for the tīa in English. My daughter and I have had around a year of this tradition and I feel positive about it. I intend on reading our years worth of blessings as part of our Matariki celebration this year.
My partner has since decided to join the party and I decided it would be fun to increase our kupu Māori as a whanau at the same time. So we are going to start out writing just one kupu in te reo Māori. We are all learning and I think it will help us in many different ways. We started the other day and my eldest daughter who is coming up 5 in a few months decided she wanted to write the kupu herself underneath my kupu. She is excited about writing and literacy at the moment. This is a great activity to encourage her to consider the kupu Māori and then if she wants to write the word or draw a picture to go along with it, this would further scaffold her learning in a meaningful way.
Ngā rauemi a Poi Princess – Poi Princess resources available:
I have a few ngā rauemi Matariki available and I have also put together a couple of different packs that I am sure you and the tamariki will enjoy.