What Matariki means to me : Podcast Transcript
Podcast by Jamie Taylor, Content Developer – Te Aho Māori | Waihanga / Kaihuawaere Ngaio Māori.
Tēnā koutou katoa, koutou e whakarongo mai nā ki tēnei punua pāoho o Tātai Aho Rau.
He uri tēnei nō Ngāti Awa, nō Ngāpuhi.
E noho ana ahau ki Waiōuru i raro i te kāhui maunga me ngā manaakitanga o te iwi nei o Ngāti Rangi.
Ko Kui Taylor tōku ingoa.
Nō reira, he mihi nui ki a koutou katoa.
In this podcast, I’ll be sharing about the ways I’ve celebrated Matariki over the years. I’ll also briefly talk about some of the principles and themes for the Matariki celebrations as we all prepare, as a nation, to celebrate our Matariki public holiday for the second year in a row. This public holiday will be held on Friday the 14th July 2023, during the Tangaroa phases of the marama.
The first time I witnessed Matariki rising was in 2018. Earlier that year I had met Dr. Rangi Mātāmua at one of his book launches in Palmerston North and I read through the book in no more than two days. I absolutely loved reading about the sun and the stars and the moon and the different ways people all around the world celebrate Matariki as well.
Sadly for our whānau, that same year, we had experienced grief when my Aunty passed away. So with my new insight after reading Rangi’s book, I set out to make sure that I watched Matariki rise as a way of acknowledging my Aunty. I’d made a plan to visit three potential spots where I would be able to see Matariki rising.
So, on that cold winter morning, I set out to those particular spots and it just wasn’t working for me.
So, the first spot I got to was a bit cloudy, the second spot had too much light pollution and the street lights were – you know – too bright. And, the third spot that I thought I might be able to see Matariki from, had a big hill blocking my view!
So, I gave up hope. I headed back home and thought ‘ugggh, I’ll try again another time’. But one of the kōrero that I’d heard at Rangi’s book launch was to teach our children to ‘look up’.
So, instead of going straight back inside, I went out to the back deck and looked up at the other stars that I could see and just appreciated the view there.
Then, something caught my eye and low and behold, it was Matariki, just over our neighbour’s fence. So I stood there in awe, in absolute awe. And, grateful that I didn’t give up.
It was a simple way of acknowledging Matariki. I took a couple of photos, I had a quiet moment and I thought about my Aunty. It wasn’t anything big and for the first time, I was just surprised and glad actually, that I did get to see the stars on that particular morning.
That particular morning set me on a path to want to learn more about Matariki but actually, the maramataka in general, so thinking about the stars, the sun, the moon, the seasons, the taiao (or environment) and even my emotions. That became a bit of a hobby of mine.
Then fast forward a couple of years later to 2021, where I actually found myself working alongside Rangi Mātāmua at Te Rau Karamu marae in Wellington. And so, what do you do when you meet a mātanga, or an expert in their field? You obviously talk about Matariki, right? So, I pulled out my phone and I showed him a couple of photos that I’d captured from 2020 where we watched Matariki rise from here in Waiouru.
He took a quick look at the photos I’d captured and then he turned to me and he asked “So, what was your read?” …And I absolutely froze up. I probably looked like a deer in the headlights and I can’t even recall if I even answered his question. Because all I had going through my mind was “You can’t bluff, you can’t make it up, what did you read? Do you even know what to do?” And his response was “Oh, yeah…cool”.
So, I walked away from that kōrero feeling so embarrassed. But that whole experience in itself, just reminded me how much I loved learning about Matariki, practising, following and observing the maramataka for myself and the benefits that my whānau have also gained through the knowledge that I’ve been learning.
2022 was an opportunity to pull together all the learning that I had been doing, whether that was through reading, wānanga, my personal practice and observation of the maramataka and put that into action at a community event that we held here called ‘The Matariki Adventures race’.
On a very cold winter’s morning, and I mean, really cold! (-4 kind of cold), a group of us actually trekked up to a particular maunga (mountain) called Waitangi. At the peak of this maunga, you can look out to the east and see where the sun rises from and to the left, you have the majestic maunga, Ruapehu.
We got to the top of the maunga just as the light was starting to flood the stars, so we had a little bit of time to take a read of the Matariki star cluster as it rose, to signal the new year and I got to humbly share a bit of kōrero with those that were around.
One of the highlights for me was being able to karanga and call the stars and Te Waka o Rangi and our loved ones who had passed in the previous year. One of the rituals that I practise when I do karanga is to take my shoes and socks off. So, not forgetting that it was -4 degrees but I had taken my shoes and socks off at the top of the maunga while I did the karanga. That was just to keep me grounded as I did that. But I did have a few people who looked at me a bit…weirdly. They may have thought I was a bit crazy.
And so, that was 2022 and was a moment for me where I realised my humble beginnings, right.
I reflect on the first time I saw Matariki rise in 2018 and I really had no clue what I was looking for, it was just me… a beautiful simple, little acknowledgement for those who had passed and then thinking about the contrast of my 2022 celebrations. Just showing me how much I had learnt and how far I had come in terms of this particular practice for me.
It was just a gentle reminder that we can celebrate Matariki in so many different ways and that every group, every community, every whānau are going to have their own unique ways and meaningful ways of celebrating Matariki.
Friday the 14th July 2023, is going to be the second year in a row where Aotearoa will celebrate Matariki as a public holiday. There are Matariki principles and Matariki themes that could be used to inform and help you design how you might celebrate Matariki with your whānau, hapū, iwi…your different communities.
The Matariki principles are: Remembrance, celebrating the present and looking to the future.
The Matariki themes are: Matariki hunga nui, gathering of people. Matariki ahunga nui, abundance of kai, Matariki manako nui, wishes and desires for the year ahead.
People will have their own ways of interpreting these principles and these themes and also what they look like in action. And so for our whānau this year, again, we’re going to be planning our year from Matariki, rather than planning our year from January 1st. My husband and I, and our whānau will have a big hui and we’ll sit together and map out some of the events of the year ahead. And, we also spend some time in that, as a whānau, acknowledging what we are really grateful for in the present and remembering all of the wonderful things that we’ve had the opportunity to achieve since last Matariki.
Our whānau also use this time to pause and think about all those who we love and miss so much.
I recall the whakataukī about Taramainuku and how he would collect the spirits of the dead in his kupenga, in his net and then as the Matariki star cluster rises again, heralding the new year, so too does Te Waka o Rangi. And he casts his net across the sky, releasing those spirits so that they can sit as stars on the chest of Ranginui.
This year, I’ll be trekking back up to the top of Waitangi to celebrate with our community.
Our whānau have already set a date for our Matariki whānau wānanga.
And we’ll take a moment throughout that wānanga to set down our intentions, our desires and wishes for the year ahead.
It’s my hope through sharing about my experience and the ways in which I’ve celebrated Matariki over the years, that you, your whānau and your communities can get together and think about how you might best celebrate Matariki in 2023.
Nō reira, tēnei ahau te ngākau whakaiti e mihi ana ki a koutou kua whakarongo mai ki tēnei punua pāoho o Tātai Aho Rau.
Mānawatia a Matariki!
Jamie Taylor, Te Aho Māori | Waihanga / Kaihuawaere Ngaio Māori
“E kore au e ngaro, he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiatea!”
It is my greatest passion to nurture the seeds of growth and ignite a desire for learning within the communities I contribute to. I strive to ‘live’ my legacy , everyday as an example and inspiration for my tamariki and whānau.
View Jamie's profile here.