Today marks the start of Māori Language Week, a time for New Zealanders to celebrate Te Reo Māori and to learn how to use more Māori phrases in everyday life.
The Māori had extensive knowledge of the night sky, observing the movements of the constellations, arrivals of comets, phases of the moon and helical rising of stars. They used the stars to direct ocean voyages and as a guide to the seasons, helping them plant certain crops at the right time. The Māori had many stories, turning factual information into entertaining tales. The oral traditions of Māori included genealogies, songs and myths, all containing a wealth of knowledge. In these stories, the stars became people of the sky. They were the offspring of Papa (the Earth) and Rangi (the Sky).
Much of Māori astronomical knowledge has been lost, due to the early missionaries suppressing indigenous religious thought. However, the fascination with the sky and many of the incredible myths remain today. In celebration of Māori Language Week, we have compiled a list of Māori terms related to astronomy. Some of these may vary, due to tribal areas.
Tipua nō ao kē
Te Ao Tukupū