Activity: What is a hautapu?

Explore the practices associated with the Matariki ceremony of hautapu.

In midwinter, when Matariki appears on the Eastern horizon in the morning, the Matariki ceremony takes place. This ceremony is commonly known as ‘whāngai i te hautapu’, meaning to feed the stars with a sacred offering.

The Matariki hautapu ceremony is usually split up into three main parts:

  • Te Tirohanga (the viewing)

  • Taki Mōteatea (remembrance) and

  • Te Whāngai i ngā whetū (feeding the stars)

Interpret sources

Read through the full hautapu process with ākonga, and watch the videos below. Ask ākonga to notice the main features of each of the three parts of a hautapu ceremony.

Communicate ideas through art or poetry

Have a shared discussion to make sure there is clarity about the intention and purpose of each of the three stages of the hautapu. Then ask ākonga to divide a landscape piece of paper into three segments, and draw or write three poems to convey three imagined scenes – one for each part in the hautapu. Encourage them in the early stages of drafting to check with a classmate that each scene or poem has enough information within it to show which part of the hautapu it represents.

Once the drawings or poems are complete, ākonga can cut their paper so each scene is separated, and shuffle them up together with everyone else’s. Gather as a group around the images and poems to discuss them. Which ones depict Te Tirohanga, Taki Mōteatea, and Te Whāngai i ngā whetū? How can we tell?