WelCom June 2017: The rising of the star cluster Matariki (the Pleiades) signals the start of the Māori New Year. The cluster usually appears low on the north-eastern horizon in early June. This year, Matariki may be seen as early as 6 June.
Traditionally Matariki signalled among other things, the end of the harvest when pātaka kai (food stores) were filled; the past year was remembered and plans made for the coming year.
Cultures all over the world have identified Matariki/the Pleiades including the first peoples of Australia and the Americas, the Celts, Persians, Babylonians and Hebrews. The Pleiades are mentioned in the Bible in Job 9:9, Job 38:31 and Amos 5:8:
‘Rapua te kaihanga o Matariki, o Tautoru; e riro kē ana i a ia te ātārangi o te mate hei ata, e whakapōuritia ana e ia te rā hei pō; e karangatia ana e ia ngā wai o te moana, ā, ringihia ana e ia ki runga ki te mata o te whenua, ko te Ariki tōna ingoa,’ Āmoho 5:8. ‘The one who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning, and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the Lord is his name.’
Today, as in the time of our tūpuna, Matariki celebrates new life and te ao Māori (the Māori world). Matariki is a time of thanksgiving – Whakamoemiti ki te Atua.
Nā Rangimoeroa Waikari-Panapa.