Matariki, also known as Māori New Year, is a time of remembrance and celebration. It also presents an excellent opportunity to teach your students about the history of Matariki and to get involved with celebrations. In this post, we'll explain what Matariki is and give you some ideas you can take into your classroom.
What is Matariki?
Matariki itself refers to a cluster of stars (also known as the Pleiades) which rise in midwinter. The exact dates vary year to date, depending on moon cycles, and not all iwi celebrate Matariki at the same time. Starting this year, there will be an annual public holiday celebrating Matariki in June or July (in 2022, the date is Friday 24th June). Te Papa's website has an excellent section all about Matariki which you can read here.
Ways to celebrate Matariki in the classroom
- Practise speaking te reo
Try to incorporate more te reo words and phrases into your teaching. A great one to use around this time is ‘Ngā mihi o Matariki, te tau hou Māori’ - Happy Matariki!
Matariki is a time for remembrance and reflection. Reflecting on the past year, including those who have passed away, and writing down plans for the next year are great ways to celebrate Matariki with your students.
- Learn the background
A project idea could be to look into one of the stories surrounding Matariki or ways that different iwi celebrate. For example, this video tells the Matariki story of Ngāti Toa Rangatira.
- Read stories
Check out your library for books on Matariki - here is a list of picture books that are great for telling kids Matariki stories.
- Complete an activity book
This activity book is free to download from the Te Papa website, and includes drawing, word games, and colouring activities.
- Maths activities
The NZMaths website has a host of Matariki themed maths activities for different year levels.
The Te Reo Classroom website has an assortment of Matariki themed resources you can purchase for use in your classroom.
- Get Crafty
The video below demonstrates how to craft a manu tukutuku (kite), a traditional activity during Matariki as kites "can sail close to the stars, helping connect us with the earth and those who have passed on". This could be a great art activity for your students and give them a chance to get creative!