Skip to content

Celebrating Matariki 2018

Celebrating Matariki

June can be a gloomy time of year. The temperatures often drop to single digits with little notice between the highs and the lows. We wake up in the morning to darkness, heading out the door bundled up warm, our breath exhalations visible in front of our faces. The dark of the night appears to arrive too soon and without a glimpse of the sun our moods can quickly feel as low as the mercury. Star

What a perfect opportunity to bring some light into our lives!

June provides us with the darkness to better display twinkling lights, the flickering flames of the fire keeping us warm, and the coolness to want to snuggle up cosy indoors, wrapping ourselves around a hot drink.

Feeling jealous of those wintry celebrations held in the Northern Hemisphere we felt it was time to create our own Southern winter tradition, and what better time than in June, to celebrate Matariki and the days leading up to the Winter Solstice.

What is Matariki?

Matariki is the Maori name for a group of stars known as the Pleiades star cluster. There are thousands of stars that make up the Pleiades cluster, but  there are technically 9 stars that are referred to as Matariki, visible to the eye.

The disappearance of Matariki in Autumn, signals the time to gather and preserve crops. The Matariki disappear from view in April, and reappear again in late May/early June. So this was an important marker in the harvest calendar.

In years gone by, Matariki was thought to determine your crop for the coming season, so it was important to recognise the part it played in nature’s cycle. If the stars were clear and bright, it was a sign that a favourable and productive season lay ahead, and planting would begin in September. If the stars appeared hazy and closely bunched together, a cold winter was in store and planting was put off until October.

Traditionally Matariki was celebrated by gathering with whanau (family) and reflecting on the past. The festival’s connection to the stars provided an opportunity for families to remember their whakapapa (genealogy) and those ancestors who had passed away to the heavens.

Gathering Together

This year we decided to celebrate Matariki on 16 June 2018 by gathering together in Hokitika, an opportunity to get together, share food, tell stories, play games and have plenty of fun and laughter.

Our Christchurch crew was thrilled to have the opportunity to road trip together, listening to countless of sing-along songs on our created playlist and being able to take plenty of stops to stretch our legs and admire the West Coast waterfalls. There were definitely some noticeable Brady Bunch moments singing together in the car.

Our Hokitika clinic had major renovations of electrical rewiring back in February. This involved having all of the ceilings ripped down and all of the wiring replaced as well as new LED lighting.  We also had big renovations to the reception room and kitchen area. Newly insulated and with fresh paint and the thickest, plushest red carpet under foot, it was the perfect accommodation for our winter weekend.

The gas fire kept us toasty warm and the reception counter doubled as a servery to pass food from the kitchen into our makeshift “lounge” area.

We decorated the (brand new) ceilings with our star decorations from our Christchurch reception area, as well as fairy lights so we could do some star gazing from the comfort of the warm indoors, and our lanterns (which were originally to take part in the Lantern Parade but it was cancelled due to weather).

Tigers Chase Away The Winter Doldrums

Would it even be considered a successful winter weekend without the addition of matching onesies?

Nobody needed any convincing to wear their warm, cosy, comfortable tiger onesies. The perfect winter outfit! There’s nothing quite like matching tiger onesies to lift everyone’s spirit. Did you know a group of tigers is called a streak or an ambush?

Our ambush strutted through the streets of Hokitika, admiring the fairy lights on the buildings in town and lighting up the Hokitika walkway to the beach. We contentedly ate our tiger’s share of pizza at Fat Pipi’s and enjoyed seeing the confused / laughing / smirking / bewildered faces on everyone’s faces as they wondered about the group in tiger onesies.

A few delightful honks and shouts headed our way on our walk back to the clinic and we then enjoyed the warmth of the fire under the twinkling lights, playing Heads Up to much amusement and hearing stories from Dr Haley Pugh’s yachting adventure across the Pacific, while enjoying warm mulled wine.

Winter Fun

Make the most of this cold, wintry time of year.

  • Create a fun playlist for a road trip to somewhere with beautiful scenery and an outdoor walk.
  • Dress up warm in onesies with your friends or family and have a fun games night.
  • Create a winter wonderland in your lounge room with hanging up fairy lights and stars – they are so much better appreciated at this time of year when it can be so dark and dreary.
  • Wrap up warm with blankets and hot water bottles, find a yummy mulled wine recipe to make or hot chocolate and marshmallows.
  • Surround yourself with people who make you laugh and you’ll feel warm from the inside out.

What mid-year winter traditions could you create for you and your whanau?

Add Your Comment (Get a Gravatar)

Your Name


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.