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Discovering Matariki: A Celestial Adventure Awaits!

Matariki can be fun family adventure
Experience the magic of Matariki with your loved ones!

In Aotearoa (New Zealand), the Matariki star cluster rising early in the morning signifies the start of a new year for Māori. This event occurs mid-winter in the Southern hemisphere and symbolises the beginning of a new cycle. Historically, Matariki has been intertwined with harvesting and hunting, with clear stars indicating an abundant season.

Matariki is a time when people, whānau (family), and communities gather to reflect on the year that has passed, celebrate the present, and plan for the following year. People like celebrating Matariki by getting together with their families to share kai (food), planting trees or preparing their vegetable garden for new planting, stargazing for Matariki and reflecting on their connection to te taiao, our natural environment.

Amazingly, we celebrate Matariki and World Orca Day on July 14th this year. World Orca Day is dedicated to protecting orcas and their habitats. Similarly, each of the nine stars in the Matariki cluster is linked to well-being and the environment. As we honour the ascension of the Matariki and celebrate World Orca Day, let's take some time to reflect on how we're connected to and interact with the environment. This is a significant opportunity to consider how we can contribute to preserving our natural world for future generations and Orca. Let's draw inspiration from these celebrations to work towards a more sustainable future.

Discover Matariki_How to find Matariki
Observing the stars above brings about a delightful and memorable activity that is sure to create lasting memories.

A Celestial Adventure Awaits

Stargazing opens the doors to creativity and imagination, allowing families, especially children, to explore the myths and legends associated with celestial bodies. Matariki provides a unique opportunity to step outside our everyday routines and immerse ourselves in the breathtaking beauty of the night sky. So, if you're up for a fun backyard adventure with family, why not plan an experience to witness the magic of Matariki? The best time to view Matariki is in the early morning, just before dawn. So make sure to set your alarm, pack some snacks and hot cocoa, and bring warm blankets for a cosy experience.

Discovering Matariki: A Celestial Adventure Awaits!

How to find Marariki

To locate Matariki, look towards the northeast horizon just before dawn, particularly around 5:30-6:30 am. You can use other well-known constellations as reference points to help you locate Matariki.

  1. Te Pae o Tautoru (the three stars of Orion's belt): Orion's Belt is one of the most recognisable constellations in the night sky. Look for three bright stars lined up in a row. These stars represent the mythical warrior Tautoru in Māori tradition. Imagine drawing a line through these stars and continuing that line towards the horizon.

  2. Puanga (Rigel in Orion): As you extend the line from Tautoru, you'll come across a brilliant star known as Rigel. In Māori culture, this star is called Puanga. It is the brightest star in the constellation of Orion and serves as a guide to finding Matariki. Puanga rises in the northeastern sky during the winter months, and its position helps determine when Matariki will become visible.

  3. Taumata-kuku (the right red giant star Aldebaran): Continuing from Puanga, follow the same line towards the horizon, but this time in the opposite direction. You'll eventually come across a reddish star called Aldebaran, which represents Taumata-kuku. This star is part of the Taurus constellation. Although Aldebaran is not directly related to Matariki, it can serve as an additional point of reference in your stargazing adventure.

  4. Finding Matariki: Now that you've located Tautoru (Orion's Belt), Puanga (Rigel), and Taumata-kuku (Aldebaran), it's time to find Matariki itself. Move your gaze upwards from Aldebaran, and you'll notice a cluster of stars that form a distinctive pattern. These are the stars of Matariki! Look for a group of seven bright stars. Each star represents a different Māori ancestor and has its own significance.

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