Navigators used stars and star clusters such as Matariki to help them navigate great distances across the Pacific. Matariki comes from the phrase ‘Ngā mata o te ariki Tāwhirimātea’ or ‘the eyes of the god Tāwhirimātea’.
It is the Māori New Year and a time to celebrate those who have passed and new beginnings.
Watch: How to find the Matariki star cluster
Mātakina: Me pēhea e kitea ai a Matariki
Educator Hauiti Gardiner shows you how to find the Matariki star cluster during the Māori New Year, which falls in the month of Pipiri (June–July).
I’m going to show you a technique of how to find Matariki by using other identifiable stars as markers.
The rising of Matariki is observed in the month of Pipiri – around June and July – in the morning sky during the lunar phases of Tangaroa, the last quarter phase of the moon.
These events mark the Māori New Year.
If you look east in the early morning sky you will find three stars in a row.
This is Orion’s Belt, often known as The Pot.
Māori call this Tautoru.
Now go to the middle star in Tautoru. Above it you will find a bright star called Puanga.
Puanga is another star that is used to observe and acknowledge the new year. This varies from iwi to iwi.
If you go right from Tautoru, you will find the brightest star in the sky, Hinetakurua, the Winter Maiden.
Hinetakurua is one of the wives of Tamanuiterā, the sun.
If you go left from Tautoru you will find a pyramid shape in the sky, Te Kokotā. It is the face of Taurus the Bull.
Then if you go left a little bit more you will see Matariki.