Matariki is coming up on July 13th, 2020. There are heaps of excellent resources on the Strandz website to get you started, including this introduction:

Matariki is celebrated every winter when the seven-star constellation, ‘Matariki’ (also known as the Pleiades or Seven Sisters) appears in the dawn sky. The dates for Matariki change every year around the mid-winter moon cycle, but it’s usually around late May to mid July. 

While Matariki is an ancient festival for Maori – it’s also known as the Maori New Year – it has been adopted in wider New Zealand culture. Non-Maori are also learning and embracing this event as part of our calendar – and it’s a part of our pre-school and primary school curriculum.

So even if Matariki is not something you’re familiar with, it’s good to find out more – and to discover that even while its origins lie in Maori mythology, Matariki is also an opportunity for families of faith to learn more about and celebrate the goodness of our God. Families reflect on the people who have gone before them (their tīpuna), and reflect on the beginnings and endings. The appearance of the group of stars reminded people to start preparing their gardens to plan their crops, and give thanks for the food we have stored and preserved. It is a time to share ideas, to remember the past and celebrate the future.

For a beautiful complete service, including karakia and a “chapel activity”, see what they’re doing at St Hilda’s this year.

Bosco has thoughts around liturgical celebrations of Matariki, and links to resources on his Liturgy site, here.

St Andrews on the Terrace, Wellington, holds a Matariki service each year, and their liturgy for 2019 can be found here. Lots of ideas there for prayers, hymns and readings.

Stonehenge: One of the many ways in which time has been measured.

More information, and a range of ideas for teaching about Matariki can be found at the NZ History site, including a discussion on how people of different religions and cultures have measured time.

Further on that theme, an entire Māori lunar calendar, together with a heap of other nicely-presented information on Matariki can be found in this booklet.

Matariki is also a time for remembering those who have died, which could be an apt theme to follow in a chapel service as Covid-19 continues to decimate the world’s population.

If you’d like your students to learn a waiata in which they can memorise the names of the Matariki stars, find a link to that and other activities here.


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