The celebration of Matariki, the Māori New Year, dates back over 700 years and is accompanied by long-established traditions.
In Te Upoko o Te Ika (Wellington region), some mana whenua celebrate not just the rising of Matariki, but also Puanga.
Puanga is a single whetū (star). It’s not part of the Matariki cluster but appears in the evening sky shortly before Matariki rises each year.
Puanga rises higher in the sky than Matariki so it’s recognised by iwi and hapū that can’t see Matariki from their location.
Traditionally, the brightness and clarity of the stars was an indicator of how abundant the harvest would be in the coming year.
The story of Puanga is only now being restored as part of the Matariki celebration, for many of us.
Why we celebrate Matariki Puanga
Matariki Puanga celebrates our unique location in Te Upoko o Te Ika.
The shape of the landscape means that in some areas only Puanga can be seen, like in Waiwhetū in Lower Hutt, home to Te Āti Awa ki Te Upoko o Te Ika a Māui. But on the west coast in Porirua, within the boundaries of Ngāti Toa, Matariki is clearly visible.
Being a region surrounded by hills and mountain ranges, there are many vantage points where both are visible – here in Te Upoko o Te Ika we have something special.
This gives us the opportunity to celebrate both events in our region.
How to participate in Matariki Puanga
Make your own hautapu or umu kohukohu whetū
Hautapu or umu kohukohu whetū is a ceremony practised during Matariki Puanga. Its purpose is to make an offering to the stars. Usually, this offering consists of kai and karakia.
The hautapu consists of three phases: preparing, offering, and eating kai. Gather your whānau around the table and recite the karakia set out below, at any of the phases.
Traditionally, it was the responsibility of our tāne to ensure that the feast was top-notch. This was seen as the ultimate display of manaakitanga and aroha for loved ones. This is the perfect opportunity for our men to step into the shoes of our ancestors and show love, care and appreciation for the whānau.
Plan your māra kai (food garden)
Growing your own food is a great way to prepare for hautapu. If you don't have access to outdoor garden space, a community garden in your suburb might be an option.
Winter is the time to enjoy the fruits of your labour, and sharing your harvest with friends and whānau can be especially rewarding. It’s also a great time to plan for spring and consider what to plant.
In the past, it was a common practice to offer food from the gardens to the community hautapu ceremony as a way of showing gratitude for the gifts provided by the environment. By setting aside some of your harvest for the hautapu, you can bring back this tradition and apply it in your own whānau and community.
Karakia mō Matariki
Manawa maiea te pūtanga o Matariki,
Manawa maiea te ariki o te rangi,
manawa maiea te matahi o te tau,
kia puta ki te whai ao ki te ao mārama.
Karakia mō Puanga
Tēra Puanga ka rewa i te pae
He tohu ki te ao
Ka poroporoaki te po
Ka mihi ki te tau hou
Ka rewa a Puanga, kia hono kia Matariki.