Activity: How do we hold a hautapu?

Plan a simple hautapu ceremony this Matariki.

The whāngai i te hautapu ceremony is a great way to open up the New Year by gathering together with our whānau, remembering our loved ones and looking to the promise of a New Year.

You can prepare your own hautapu ceremony by following the steps below. It can be as simple or as elaborate as needed. You might decide to prepare an umu kohukohu whetū, cook your kai in the oven, or even use a pot on a gas burner outside. The important things to remember are:

  • selecting the right kai for your hautapu

  • making sure there is steam to release at the right time

  • the importance of reciting the karakia for this ceremony.

1. Select the right kai

Before you have your hautapu, you need to plan and prepare the kai beforehand. There are four stars of the Matariki cluster that are connected to the kai that you will be cooking. Here are a few suggestions of what type of kai you might like to select for each star.

  • Tipuānuku: food from the earthkūmara – traditionally these were selectedrīwai (potato)kāreti (carrot)

  • Tipuārangi: food from the skyheihei (chicken)tītī (muttonbird)hua rākau (berries)

  • Waitī: food from freshwatertuna (eel)kēwai (freshwater crayfish)wātakirihi (watercress)

  • Waitā: food from the oceantāmure (snapper)any type of shellfishkarengo (seaweed)

2. Preparing your umu or cooker

Once you have gathered your kai from the different domains you’ll want to place it all in your umu or pot. If you’re cooking it in the oven, use an oven tray and put tinfoil over the top to cook it. You want to give yourself enough time for your kai to be cooked by the time Matariki is visible in the morning sky.

3. Commencement of your hautapu ceremony

Before the sun rises, have everyone gather together and begin by reciting the Matariki karakia. There are ten karakia that can be recited and each one has a specific purpose. Download a booklet of karakia from The karakia in this booklet are a truncated version of a much larger ceremony that is conducted during the Māori New Year to acknowledge Matariki. Still, these karakia follow the same structure as the more elaborate ceremony, and they hold the same intent.

The order is as follows:

  • Waerea

  • Pōhutukawa

At the completion of the karakia to Pōhutukawa and the calling of the names you can uncover your umu or pot and let the steam rise into the sky as an offering to Matariki. The remaining karakia can then be recited to complete the ceremony:

  • Tipuānuku

  • Tipuārangi

  • Waitī

  • Waitā

  • Waipunarangi

  • Ururangi

  • Hiwa-i-te-rangi

  • Matariki

4. Celebration

This brings an end to the Matariki ceremony and begins a period of celebration and enjoyment.