Matariki for kids

Matariki is a Māori word that can be translated as tiny eyes, or eyes of God. It is also the name for the Māori New Year celebration and the Māori name for a small group of stars (Pleiades) that drop below the horizon in April and reappear in June. When this happens, it is the signal for the Māori New Year to start. Early Māori sailors used these stars to help them find their way.

Find out what happened in June 2016 for Matariki.

Matariki 2016

What happens at Matariki?

Different tribes celebrate Matariki in different ways. In the past, it was a time to:

  • Finish storing up food for the winter.
  • Create new woven clothes and baskets.
  • Remember our ancestors and listen to old tribal stories.
  • Learn about the natural world.
  • Learn to play string games.
  • Celebrate the coming year.
  • Make, decorate and fly kites.

Some things we might do now at Matariki include:

  • Have a celebration with friends and whānau.
  • Learn or do some weaving.
  • Learn about stars and see Matariki through a telescope.
  • Talk to people in our family about our family history and stories.
  • Fly kites.
  • Watch kapa haka performances.
  • Learn about Māori myths and culture.
  • Give respect to the whenua (land) on which we live.
  • Learn more about how we can care for our Mother Earth Papatūānuku

Cover of Matariki Cover of Matariki

Discover Matariki stories

There are many different stories about Matariki.

One is that Matariki is a mother with her six daughters around her. Another is that the god Tāwhirimātea was angry that the Sky (Ranginui) and the Earth (Papatūānuku) were separated and tore out his eyes and threw them into the sky to comfort Ranginui. Other countries also have their own stories about these stars.

Matariki Star Weaving at Hornby
Matariki star weaving, Flickr CCL-HO-Matariki-2009-06-12-DSC00607

Now that you have learned a little about Matariki — why don’t you take our quiz and see how well you can do!

Matariki traditions

Kites were seen as connectors between heaven and earth, and were often flown at this event, especially on the first day of the New Year.
Food and kai
Preparing a meal for friends and whanau is traditional at Matariki.
We focus on our whakapapa, our family history, during Matariki.
Stars and space
Matariki is all about watching the stars and learning about them. You can take a trip to the stars with our space explorer!
Te Whata Raki
Come and discover the new world inside Te Whata Raki. Explore our new online world with your guide, Whetu Marama. Learn about some traditional stories, told through waiata, pictures and other web resources before trying out the quiz.
You can make lots of different things if you learn a little bit about weaving. Learn how to make a star or a putiputi (flower).

Colouring in

Download these colouring in pages.

Mana - colouring in Mātauranga colouring in Ngā Mahi hou colouring in Whānau - colouring in Matariki


Photos of Matariki

See our set of Matariki photos on Flickr.