Matariki hunga nui (Matariki of the many people): This te reo Māori phrase holds that people gather to celebrate the passing of one year and the hope of a new one.
This year, for the first time, Aotearoa New Zealand will mark the Māori new year, Matariki, with a national public holiday – and AUT has a plethora of related events happening around campus over the next month, starting on June 2.
Professor Pare Keiha (Te Whānau-a-Taupara o Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, and Rongowhakaata) is the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor of Māori Advancement.
He encourages all AUT students, staff, whānau and friends of the University, Māori and tauiwi, to get involved with the celebrations.
“Matariki marks the beginning of the Māori new year. It coincides with the rising of a cluster of stars - Matariki, and her daughters, Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi, Waipunarangi, Waitī, Waitā, and Ururangi. It is a time for reflection, contemplation and celebration,” he says.
“AUT’s Matariki celebrations provide an opportunity for staff, students and friends of AUT to come together to acknowledge the previous year, plan for the year ahead, and to celebrate with kai, kōrero, ceremony, activities and entertainment.”
Te Wananga Aronui o Tāmaki Makau Rau (AUT) has launched a page dedicated to Matariki on its website which houses information about the nine whētu (stars), digital artworks and a podcast from students as well as AUT events.
Matariki is a time for remembrance, celebrating the present and looking to the future.
The events happening around campus, supported by the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences and the students’ association AUTSA, include a Kawe Aroha - Service of Remembrance at which we will gather to remember those members of our AUT whānau who have passed away over the past year.
To connect with each other, there are opportunities over the month to celebrate with dance, waiata, over food and with other activities such as learning poi or Titī Tōrea, a fun Māori stick game.
And, in looking to the future, planting events will be held, including the opportunity to take home a seedling to plant in your own garden.
The University’s Office of Māori Advancement also encourages people to get behind the national celebrations by using the official logo Te Tohu o Matariki, designed by the company Extended Whānau, on their social media.
Matariki is the te reo Māori name for a cluster of stars, known in English as Pleiades.
The constellation rises before dawn above the eastern horizon in mid-winter, and is used as a marker for the start of the Māori new year.
The te reo Māori phrase “Mānawatia a Matariki” means "welcome and celebrate Matariki" and can be said in a similar way to how “Happy New Year” is said in English.
As well as events at AUT, there will also be public events held around Tāmaki Makaurau to take part in.
The 2022 Auckland Matariki Festival will be held from June 21 to July 16, and includes 80 events across the region. This year the city’s host iwi partner for the festival is Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.
Professor Rangi Mātāmua (Tūhoe) of Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa (Massey University) is recognised as the world’s foremost expert on Matariki.
In his book Matariki: The Star of the Year, Professor Mātāmua says the erosion of Māori culture that happened after the mass arrival of European settlers saw the practice of Matariki celebrations all but disappear by the beginning of the twentieth century.
The practice has seen a revival happen since the early 1990s, and since then Matariki has continued to entrench its position as an important annual festival within Aotearoa.
“However, Matariki is more than a cluster of stars that marks the changing of the season and the winter solstice,” he writes.
“It is more than an environmental indicator that predicts the new season’s growth, and it is more than a symbol of unity, togetherness and hope. Matariki is greater than its connection to new life and its remembrance of the deceased. Matariki transcends boundary, religion, political agenda and even race. Matariki has different meanings for different people, and in a new age it has become a marker, not only of culture but also of national identity.”
Professor Mātāmua says that future generations may look back on the June 24 public holiday this year as a moment in time when we came of age as a nation.