Matariki - celebrating together the Māori New Year!

Matariki is now officially celebrated as a public holiday in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The dates shift every year, depending on the rising of the Matariki cluster of stars. Māori New Year is celebrated when Matariki appears again in the sky. Matariki is a cluster of stars that is also known as the Pleiades and can be seen from late May or early June.
There is much to learn and experience about Matariki. Here are some good places to start that journey:

- Te Papa: a range of educational resources, including this free downloadable activity book.
- Here's how to find Matariki in the sky! Youtube clip.
- Learning about the stars from the Auckland Stardome.

'...Nāna nei i hanga a Aketura, a Tautoru, a Matariki, me ngā rūma i te tonga." Hopa 9:9
...and set the stars in place - the Big Dipper and Orion, the Pleides and the stars in the southern sky.


How to celebrate Matariki with your church and community

These are some ideas for celebrating Matariki. If you have an idea to share I would love to hear from you. We have also included ideas for your after-school club or community programme. Here are two helpful websites to start with:
1. Check out this lovely family resource from the Presbyterian Church of NZ.
2. The Strandz website has a good collection of resources and links. 

Ideas for everyone:
Remembering the past:
Begin with a simple explanation. "This morning we acknowledge the beginning of Matariki, Maori New Year. A special cluster of stars can be seen in the sky, stars that are sometimes called the Pleiades. Matariki is a time for remembering those who have gone before us. This morning let us pause and remember those who we love who are no longer with us. Those who have guided and shaped us, those who have encouraged us along the way and helped us to become the people we are today."

Pass along the rows baskets containing cardboard star shapes and pens. Have enough baskets to pass along the rows quickly. Encourage everyone to take a star from the basket and a pen. Make sure that the children take one as well as the youth and adults.

"As you sit and hold your star pause and think about the people we love who have died. Talk to God quietly or inside your head and thank God for them. Thank God for what they have given to us - wisdom, guidance and love. You might like to write your prayer on your star or just hold it. Parents, you might like to write a prayer with your children."
Give people some silence to pray.

To conclude you could:
  • Encourage people to bring their star to the front and stick it onto a black sheet of paper or fabric. Display this in the church building during Matariki.
  • Encourage people to take their star home and place it somewhere where they will see it during the rest of Matariki.
  • Encourage families to take their stars home to create a mobile with.

Sharing the Bible together:
Choose Bible passages to read together as a whole congregation that emphasis God's creation of the heavens, the stars, moon and sun. You might like to use the CEV version so that all ages can understand. Click on these links to view the Bible online at
- Psalm 136
- Psalm 147
- Nehemiah 9:6
- Job 38

Matariki is in the Bible! 
Check it out in:
Job 9:9, Job 38:31 and Amos 5:8

Genesis 1: Read the first chapter of the Bible. You could add some atmospheric background music to set the scene and display photos on a Powerpoint behind you. NASA has lots of free images that you can use: You might like to use the Jesus Storybook Bible pg 18-27, as it has a beautiful retelling of this account.

Genesis 15: Tell the story of Abraham and God under the night sky. We are Abraham's descendents, as many as the stars in the sky or the sand on the shore. Link this to the list of faithful people in Hebrews 11. These are the people of faith who have gone before us. As we celebrate Matariki we give thanks to God for these faithful people.

 But wait, there's more!! Click here for Part Two...



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