Celebrating Matariki

A highlight of some Matariki stars, featuring Aotearoa’s traditional foods and gathering practices.

Matariki stars

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars that rises in midwinter, also known as the Pleiades. This marks the new year in the Māori lunar calendar. A time for celebration and reflection with family and friends, to feast and share the harvest. The first year Matariki being celebrated in Aotearoa with a public holiday was on June 24 2022. This year on 2023 Matariki is on July 14.

There are nine visible stars in the Matariki cluster, each one holding a certain significance over our wellbeing and environment. The nine stars are named: Matariki, Tupuārangi, Waipuna-ā-Rangi, Waitī, Tupuānuku, Ururangi, Waitā, Pōhutukawa and Hiwa-i-te-Rangi. Find the full Matariki story and description of each star here.

In this post we will highlight five stars, Matariki, Waitī, Waitā, Tupuānuku, and Tupuārangi.

Matariki, this star represents reflection, hope, our connection to the environment and the gathering of people, it is also connected to health and wellbeing of people.

Waitī, this star is connected with all fresh water bodies and the food sources that are sustained by those waters.

A diverse ecosystem lives in the lakes, rivers, springs, and ponds including plants, snails, insects, shellfish, and fish such as whitebait, eels, and freshwater flounders. Read here for a full story about life in fresh water from Te Ara.

Waitā, is associated with the ocean, and food sources within it.

To honour the food source we get from the ocean, let’s make the most of our kaimoana. Use every part of the fish, sear the frames or that bit of meat that comes with the fins, or save them for seafood stock. Or try out this recipe for a roasted whole fish with escabeche style sauce.

Shells from clams, mussels, crabs are also great for making seafood stock. Check out this tip to get the most flavour out of the shells.

Seared fish fins

Seared fish fins

Tupuānuku, is connected with everything that grows within the soil to be harvested or gathered for food.

Pikopiko (fern shoots) are the edible parts of the fern fronds and were traditionally harvested and added to meals. 7 of the 200 New Zealand fern species are edible, source.

Pūhā, a green vegetable native to New Zealand also known as sow thistle, is a plant that can be found in the wild and is still eaten today commonly enjoyed in the classic dish, pork and pūhā. For nutrition and cooking information about this vegetable, click here.

Check out this link to read on about traditional Māori foods and read here to learn more about traditional growing and gathering of cultivated and wild plants.


Pūhā growing in the wild

Tupuārangi, this star is connected with everything that grows up in the trees including fruits, berries, and birds.

Read about the story of fruit currently grown in New Zealand here and the story about birds in New Zealand here.


A weka

The stars highlighted in this post are mainly the ones that have an environmental or food connection, and within that we can see the diverse native flora and fauna right here in New Zealand. We hope you have a great Matariki!

Feel free to get in touch with us to share the new things you’ve learnt about Aotearoa food this Matariki.