Matariki Celebrations

30 May 2011

When the star cluster Matariki (also known as the Pleiades) reappears in our dawn skies each year, it is the signal for the Maori New Year to begin.

Face painting fun at Family Day (5 June) with Capital E at Carter Observatory

Face painting fun at Family Day (5 June) with Capital E at Carter Observatory

Celebrations begin with a dawn karakia (prayer) to mark the first sighting of Matariki - due to take place this year on Rāhoroi (Saturday) 4 Piripi (June). Celebrations will continue until Rāhina (Monday) 4 Hōngongoi (July).

Traditionally, Matariki marks the end of the harvest and the beginning of the planting season. Today, Matariki means celebrating and giving respect to the land, sea and sky.

Carter Observatory is celebrating Matariki with activities throughout June. This Sunday (5 June), Capital E and Carter are hosting a family day at the observatory - featuring storytelling, crafts and star prizes.

Carter's Marketing and Communications Manager, Dawn Muir, says Matariki reminds us of the importance of our family connections, and gives us an opportunity to refocus ourselves for the year ahead.

"Our Matariki family day will give families the chance to celebrate together and mark this important New Zealand event."

Te Papa and City Gallery are also celebrating Matariki this year. For a full list of Matariki events in Wellington, phone (04) 499 4444 or visit:

Matariki - Māori New Year