The story of Matariki

Every year in June, seven stars (the Pleiades) rise to the north-east and when they are visible just above the horizon at dawn it is considered Matariki, or Maori New Year. Here is the legend of Matariki

The Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, have always been important to astronomers. They took pride of place in Greek legend and have made their way into many tales, especially from the sea. One old Pacific legend tells of Matariki, the mother surrounded by her six daughters. 

In Maori Matariki means 'tiny eyes' or 'eyes of God'. The children of the earth mother Papatuanuku and sky father, Ranginui, were divided over whether to separate them and bring light and life to the earth. Eventually, Tane Mahuta, the god of the forest, laid on his back and used his feet to force them apart. But Tawhirimatea, the god of the winds, did not agree with his brother's actions. He thought that separating his parents was cruel. He was so angry he tore out his own eyes and threw them into the heavens where they have looked down on man ever since. 

The eyes of Tawhirimatea have become many constellations, and among them live Matariki, the mother and her seven sisters. They rise after the winter solstice, and use their mana - their power - to help the weakened sun on his journey back south. 

Matariki is a time of renewal and an opportunity to reflect on who we are at this moment in time, and build connections with our whanau.