The Seven Sisters

What is Matariki?

Matariki is one of the most important Maori celebrations as it signifies the start of the New Year in Maori culture.

Matariki is a cluster of stars that are known as the Seven Sisters. The stars helped guide our ancestors, who were master navigators, on great sea voyages in waka (canoes).

During winter, Maori looked to Matariki to see how the weather for the following season would be. If the stars shone bright, the season ahead will be calm and easy going; if they were dull, it meant months of hard work.

Matariki Cluster

How is Matariki celebrated?

The twinkling of the Matariki stars in the pre-dawn sky heralds a special celebration for young and old. Across New Zealand, people come together to remember their ancestors, share food, sing, tell stories, and play music.

Matariki festivities highlight the tangata whenua (local people). They remind us of the cycle of life and natural ways of marking the passing of time.

Matariki Cluster

When is Matariki?

On 7 September 2020, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pledged to make Matariki a public holiday if the Labour Party were re-elected in the 2020 general election.

The proposed public holiday would not be implemented until 2022, during which businesses could recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. On 4 February 2021, Ardern announced the first date for the public holiday will be 24 June 2022.

Legislation to give legal effect to the public holiday will be introduced during the 2021 parliamentary session.