Discover Matariki

What is Matariki?


Discover Matariki, the Māori name for a cluster of stars, marks a significant event in New Zealand’s cultural calendar. Rising in midwinter, Matariki heralds the Māori New Year, a time steeped in tradition, reflection and celebration. In 2024, Te Rā Aro ki Matariki will be commemorated on Friday, June 28th. This blog delves into the essence of Matariki, its cultural significance and how you can experience this celestial event in the heart of New Zealand’s West Coast at Rainforest Retreat.

Matariki Stars Rainforest Franz Josef Glacier New Zealand
Photo: Cam Stables

The Significance of Matariki

Matariki, also known as the Pleiades or Seven Sisters, signals the start of the New Year for many Māori. The cluster’s return to the pre-dawn sky is a time for:

  1. Remembrance (Whakamaumaharatanga): Honoring those who have passed and reflecting on their contributions.
  2. Celebration (Whakanui): Rejoicing in the present, acknowledging achievements, and sharing stories.
  3. Looking to the Future (Tirohanga Whakamua): Setting intentions, planning goals, and embracing new beginnings.

Matariki is more than an astronomical event; it’s a spiritual and communal occasion that binds whānau (family) and iwi (tribes) together through shared traditions and values.

Core Values of Matariki

During Matariki, several core values are celebrated:

  • Aroha: Love and respect for one another.
  • Kotahitanga: Unity within communities.
  • Tohatoha: Sharing resources and wisdom.
  • Mana Taiao: Environmental stewardship and connection to nature.
  • Hākari: Feasting and enjoying communal meals.
  • Wānanga: Learning, discussion, and imparting knowledge.
  • Noho tahi: Coming together as one.
  • Atawhaitanga: Kindness and compassion.
  • Tuakiritanga: Exploring and affirming identity.


Celebrating Matariki in Modern Times

Matariki continues to evolve, incorporating modern elements while retaining its traditional roots. This year, on June 28, there will be a live broadcast from Ngongotahā featuring a traditional hautapu ceremony, addresses from Māori leaders and the Crown and vibrant performances of waiata Māori. This event exemplifies the enduring relevance of Matariki in contemporary New Zealand culture.

Discover Matariki: Stargazing at Rainforest Retreat


Star Gazing Rainforest Retreat
Photo: Cam Stables

Rainforest Retreat, nestled amidst the pristine beauty of the Southern Alps and West Coast, offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience the celestial wonders of Matariki. Discover Matariki under the clear, unpolluted skies provide a perfect backdrop for stargazing and connecting with the night sky.

The best time to view Matariki is just before dawn and we encourage our guests to look up at the early morning sky on the morning of Matariki. Use this moment for contemplating the past year, while setting intentions for the future. The serene environment amidst the Rainforest enhances the spiritual aspect of this celestial event, making it an ideal spot for both reflection and celebration.

Matariki is a time of deep cultural significance in New Zealand, offering a unique blend of remembrance, celebration and forward-thinking. By understanding and participating in Matariki traditions, we not only honour Māori heritage but also enrich our own lives. Whether you are here for the history, the values, or the stargazing, Rainforest Retreat invites you to join us in celebrating Matariki under the stunning night skies of the West Coast.

For more information about Matariki and how you can celebrate, visit

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