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Matariki for landscape architects

Posted 16 06 2022

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June 24 is Aotearoa New Zealand’s first Matariki holiday. Image credit  -
June 24 is Aotearoa New Zealand’s first Matariki holiday. Image credit -

Watch webinar video

2022 is the first year Aotearoa New Zealand will be marking Matariki with a public holiday. This year the holiday falls on June 24, but like Easter, the timing will be different every year.

Tuia Pito Ora New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects wants to ensure the profession continues to engage with, and work to understand further the Māori world view. On the 14th June the Institute continued to celebrate Matariki with a webinar. See below for the recording of the webinar.



The Institute says “as well as explaining Matariki our experts also discussed appropriate ways to incorporate Māori design in landscape architecture, the importance of iwi and mana whenua relationship and consultation and design best practice.”

Liliana Clarke is a researcher and associate investigator for the Society of Māori Astronomy Research and Traditions (SMART) Trust and she will present to the June webinar, and will be followed by a panel discussion with landscape architects including William Hatton, Dr Di Menzies and Josephine Clarke.

Liliana told LAA that she feels the weight of responsibility in teaching and discussing Matariki with a group of landscape architects about not only Matariki itself but also ‘who we are as Māori.’

“I do think it's about place and space and how we relate to those places and how we relate to that space, whether that's historically or whether that's in the present time and making those two meet, meld together so that it's like a seamless space.

“It's all about creating that space and creating that sense of safety and comfort, I think that's hopefully my job right now.”

Liliana, who is currently working on her PhD, says she initially learnt about Matariki from her grandmother and father, both avid gardeners who followed maramataka ( the Māori lunar calendar)

“Growing up and working in the garden with them, I guess I was an intern.”

She says different hapu and iwi might follow different events through maramataka but she concedes creating one holiday around Matariki is probably the best way to begin to expand knowledge and understanding around the event.

Below you can see a video produced by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment about Matariki.

Matariki is also known as Māori New Year and is seen as a time for celebration, growth and renewal. Matariki is the Māori name for the group of stars also known as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters.

In April 2022, the Te Pire mō te Hararei Tūmatanui o te Kāhui o Matariki/Te Kāhui o Matariki Public Holiday Bill passed its third reading in parliament.

The bill set the dates for the holiday date through until 2052, falling on the Friday closest to the Tangaroa lunar phase - when the last quarter-moon rises - of Piripi, a period typically falling between June and July.

The New Zealand Government has committed to ensuring mātauranga Maori is at the heart of celebrations of the Matariki public holiday, and it will be a time for:

  • Remembrance – Honouring those we have lost since the last rising of Matariki
  • Celebrating the present – Gathering together to give thanks for what we have
  • Looking to the future – Looking forward to the promise of a new year

Matariki, the word, is an abbreviation of Ngā Mata o te Ariki (Eyes of God) in reference to Tāwhirimātea, the god of the wind and weather. In the story of creation, Tāne Mahuta (god of the forest) separated his parents Ranginui and Papatūānuku, and his brother Tāwhirimātea got upset and tore out his eyes, crushed them into pieces and thew them into the sky.

Some iwi recognise this time of year by the appearance of Puanga, also known as Rigel. There are also regions where the setting of Rehua, also known as Antares, is used to identify the change of seasons.