Of course, New Zealanders celebrate their New Year on New Year's Eve, the night from 31 December to 1 January.
But there is another date to remember: the Maori New Year, called Matariki. This is in the middle of the year and is celebrated with festivals. Northland with its high percentage of Maori population is a perfect place to get an idea about it. Traditionally, Matariki is a time when many Maori communities celebrate their successes and plan for the period ahead. The timing of the New Year relates to the appearance of the star constellation Pleiades or Matariki and the subsequent sighting of the next new moon.
The timing of Matariki fell at the end of a harvest and food stores were full. Meat, fruits, herbs and vegetables had been gathered and preserved and the migration of certain fish ensured a great period of feasts. Matariki was seen as a time to share with each other, for family and friends to come together and share in the gifts that the land and sea had provided for them.
All Iwi (Maori tribes) celebrate Matariki, although they may celebrate at different times. For some tribes celebrations are held when Matariki is first seen in the dawn sky, for others it is celebrated after the full moon rises, and for others at dawn of the next new moon.
In 2008, Matariki falls on 5 June. For the whole month of June, there will be events Northland-wide celebrating Matariki, Maori New Year. Art exhibitions, museum and library public activity programmes, wananga and workshops, organic garden tours, café food and wine promotions, holiday accommodation packages, music and traditional Maori healing activities are all part of the festival with venues throughout Northland and New Zealand.
Arts Promotion Trust (Northland)
PO Box 959, Whangarei
A big Matariki festival is held in the capital Wellington.
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100 Kamo Road, Whangarei, North Island, 0101, New Zealand
Good for: Couples