This Friday, 28 June, is the public holiday for Matariki, the Māori New Year. This is when the group of nine stars called Matariki, also known as Pleiades, rises. For Māori this is an important time to remember the past, celebrate the present and look forward to the future. Remembering the past includes honouring those who have died since the last rising of Matariki. Celebrating the present involves sharing food and giving thanks for what we have. Looking forward to the future includes planning for the year ahead, especially planting crops.  

Matariki became a public holiday in 2022. The date changes every year because it follows the Māori lunar calendar, but it is always a Friday. The emphasis is on people spending time with whānau (family), perhaps travelling back to their hometown, or going away for the weekend together. When the Matariki holiday was introduced, the government said that they hoped it would not lead to commercialisation, or a lot of shopping, but rather keep the principles of whānau and community. There are many events organised in cities and towns around the country which everyone can join in. However, most councils have decided not to have firework displays, as Māori focus on the stars and the environment at this time, and fireworks distract from the stars.  

The theme for 2024 is Matariki heri kai, or the feast of Matariki. Food is an important part of Matariki, both preparing food to share together and planning for the next year’s crops.

If you want more listening practice, go to Matariki from 2013.


celebrate – do something special or enjoyable for an event or day

honour (verb) – to show respect for someone

lunar – relating to the moon

commercialisation – the act of using something to make money (this word is often used to show disapproval)