Matariki is a group of stars in the constellation Taurus, one of the 12 Zodiac constellations. There are about a thousand stars in Matariki, but only some can be seen with the naked eye. Most iwi observe nine stars in Matariki, not the seven stars often highlighted in many Matariki waiata.
For many iwi, Matariki is a sign of the new year and resetting a yearly calendar that would otherwise fall out of sync with Maramataka, the lunar-solar calendar. This is because the lunar cycle of Marama (the Moon) around Earth doesn’t fit evenly into the cycle of Earth around the Tamanuiterā (the Sun). Each year, the lunar cycle is around 11 days shorter than the solar cycle. Because the lunar cycle of 29.5 days, doesn’t fit evenly into a solar cycle of 365.25 days, many iwi watch for the first appearance of Matariki before sunrise followed by the first Tangaroa phase to celebrate Matariki.
Following the Matariki celebrations, the Maramataka is reset with the new year once the moon phases go dark. Whiro is the new moon phase and for many iwi the start of Maori New year – a day for reflection and rest. This is why the days of Matariki celebrations change every year.
This year Stardome will be observing Matariki a bit later than usual, with a week of Matariki celebrations starting on the 13th of July. Māori New Year will fall on the 20th of July.
Here at Stardome we’re celebrating Matariki with a presenter-led Matariki kōrero under the planetarium stars. You’ll hear about ngā whetū (the stars), ngā aorangi (the planets), Maramataka and the many stories written in our night skies passed down from generation to generation. To join us, check out our showtimes here