Today is Matariki Day in New Zealand. Matariki is the Maori name for a cluster of seven stars that appears in the early morning sky in New Zealand during midwinter. This year the day falls on July 14, 2023. The constellation of these seven stars is known as Pleiades or Seven Sisters in Western culture, but is known as Matariki by the Maori, New Zealand’s indigenous Polynesian population.
For the Maori, Matariki marks the Maori new year, as the reappearance of the Matariki stars brings the past year to a close and marks the beginning of a new year. Last year was the first year New Zealand celebrated this day as a public holiday. Many Maori will celebrate the day with a Hangi, a traditional Maori meal that is cooked in a pit oven in the ground.
The seven stars of Matariki are:
Matariki — the mother star, signifying reflection and renewal
Pohutukawa — the remembrance star, associated with those who passed away
Waiti — the freshwater star, responsible for life that freshwater brings
Waita — the star of the ocean, responsible for providing seafood
Tupuanuku — the star of food, associated with the earth and crops
Tupuarangi — the star of music, responsible for inspiration and creativity
Uruarangi — the star of the winds, signifying change and new beginnings