Activity: When is Matariki?

Consider when Matariki is celebrated and how this is related to the seasonal rhythm of Aotearoa.

Around the beginning of the winter months, the star cluster Matariki disappears from our view. About a month after it disappears, Matariki reappears on the eastern horizon – just before sunrise. Its reappearance coincides with mid-winter and marks the beginning of the Māori New Year.


Print out this 12-month calendar, January–December.

12-month calendar (13.54 KB)

Ask ākonga to gather four coloured pencils to colour the seasonal changes through the year:

  • Light green for the new growth from September to November

  • Yellow for the hot heat from December to February

  • Orange for the harvest from March to May

  • Blue for the cold and short days from June to August

Discuss together:

  • What part of the seasonal year does Matariki happen in?

  • Where did this calendar of January–December come from?

  • What season do they celebrate their New Year in?

  • Is the calendar of January–December from this whenua?

  • If we were to use the calendar of this land, when does the year start?


The Gregorian calendar and celebrations that we mark, such as Easter, Halloween, and Christmas, have all been superimposed on Aotearoa, and have entirely different seasonal stories that come from the other side of the planet. With ākonga, you may want to spend some time exploring other festivals and their seasonal origins. Be sure to emphasise that Matariki is the only collective celebration we have (so far) that celebrates the rhythm of this land, Aotearoa. This makes it incredibly important to all of us.

Ask ākonga what other new year celebrations or festivals they are aware of from within their own cultural stories, such as Chinese New Year, Tet (Vietnam), Rosh Hashanah (Jewish), Diwali (Hindu New Year), and many more. There may be opportunities to consider each of these in relation to the calendar and place that they originated from.

Communicate ideas

After discussion, ask ākonga to design a bumper sticker, a meme, or a fridge magnet that celebrates the importance of Matariki as a public holiday in the calendar here in Aotearoa. Consider how symbols and imagery can communicate the seasonal story of this time of the year.