Today is the beginning of Matariki, the Maori New Year. It is the time of year when the group of stars, The Pleiades, first appears in the sky. When the new moon appears after this, it is the time to celebrate Matariki. It has two meanings: Mata Riki means Little Stars and Mata Ariki means Eyes of God.
Matariki was a time for Maori to think about the past and the future. They remembered the people who died in the last year. It was also a time when the harvest was finished and people had time to celebrate with singing and dancing.
New Zealand Post is celebrating Matariki this year with a new issue of stamps showing Maori rock drawings. They are pictures of humans and animals. They were drawn in caves 700 to 1,000 years ago. Most of them are in the South Island.
Today, 21st June, it is also the time of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.
To see the Pleiades group of stars, go to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage website.
appears – comes, arrives
harvest – fruit and vegetables are collected
issue – New Zealand Post issues new stamps about every six weeks