On Friday 24 June, 2022, Aotearoa New Zealand marks Matariki with a public holiday for the first time, a fantastic step in acknowledging the importance of the Māori New Year. How are you planning to celebrate Matariki this year? Why not start with a book!
A few years ago we shared our favourite Matariki picture books here. But we thought it was time to mention a few new pukapuka that are perfect for snuggling down with on winter nights.
Anā! Te paki o Matariki.
Behold! The wonders of Matariki.
Matariki Around the World. Written by Rangi Matamua & Miriama Kamo, with illustrations by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White. (Scholastic New Zealand, 2022).
You may know about Matariki in this country, but did you know that the star cluster is also celebrated around the world? Matariki Around the World is a beautiful new picture book that explores the significance of Matariki for Aotearoa New Zealand, then looks at this same constellation and its meaning in other cultures. In Tahiti, it is known as Matari’i, and is a time of festivals and ceremony. For indigenous Australians, it is Karatgurk, and its creation myth tells the story of how fire was brought to humankind. In Japan, they call it Subaru, which means ‘united’, and in Southern Africa the cluster is known as IsiLimela (‘digging stars’).
Written by Māori astronomer Rangi Matamua and journalist Miriama Kamo, with stunning illustrations by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White, this book is full of interesting information and beautiful stories. It is full of humour and jokes, yet reminds us of how we are all connected. Its tag line is ‘A Cluster of Stars; A Cluster of Stories,’ and when you come down to it, that’s really what we all are.
Te Kōkōrangi: Te Aranga o Matariki (The Astromancer: The Rising of Matariki). Written by Witi Ihimaera, with illustrations by Joy Te Aho-White. (Penguin Random House New Zealand, 2022).
Literary legend Witi Ihimaera has also published a picture book for Matariki. Te Kōkōrangi:Te Aranga o Matariki (The Astromancer: The Rising of Matariki) tells the story of Ariā, an orphan girl who is chosen by the astromancer as a new apprentice. With illustrations again from Isobel Joy Te Aho-White, it is a beautifully written and exciting story of a brave girl who has to step up to save her tribe. There are two versions of this book, one in te reo (translated by Hēni Jacob) and one in English.
Matariki. By Kirsten Parkinson and Kitty Brown. (Allen & Unwin, 2022).
For younger readers, there is the gorgeous Matariki by Kitty Brown and Kirsten Parkinson, which gives us ideas of how to celebrate Matariki based on the nine stars. ‘How can we celebrate Matariki?’ the book asks. ‘Let’s look to the stars!’ To honour Ururangi, you can enjoy the wind, fly a kite, walk on a windy day or listen to the sounds of the sky. Under Hiwaiterangi, you can celebrate the wishing star by reflecting on the year past and thinking about what you want to do in the coming year. Visit the bush and climb trees to reflect Tupuārangi, and enjoy the fresh water of your local awa to acknowledge Waitī.
With beautiful illustrations and written in both te reo and English, this is a lovely book to read with the whānau and plan your celebrations.
Matariki: The Star of the Year. By Rangi Matamua. (Huia Publishing, 2018).
Astronomer, academic and author, Rangi Matamua had his interest in astronomy sparked when his grandfather showed him a 400-page manuscript in te reo, containing years of knowledge and information from many generations before him. Rangi is credited with revolutionising the understanding of Māori astronomy, and in 2017 published Matariki: The Star of the Year. This is the go-to book for all things Matariki, filled with information based on research and interviews with Maori experts. With the country now formally acknowledging the importance of this celebration, it’s the perfect time for those that are still learning to deepen our understanding.
A few links for more Matariki!
The Sapling's 2020 list of Matariki picture books
Matariki at Te Papa
And don’t forget to check out the local Matariki events happening in your community!