The Star Family of Matariki story

Stories play an important role in celebrating Matariki. In this story from Ngāti Toa iwiiwi tribe, Matariki and her six star daughters journey across the sky to visit their kuiakuia grandmother.

The story Ko te Whānau Whetu o Matariki (The Star Family of Matariki) tells how these seven Matariki stars use their special talents and skills to help their kuiakuia grandmother, Papatūānuku (the earth), to prepare for the new year.

Ko te Whānau Whetu o Matariki is retold by kaumātuakaumātua elder Te Waari Carkeek, and created with Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Papa’s iwiiwi tribe in residence.


The video features time-lapse photography of places in the Wellington region that are significant to Ngāti Toa, and a soundscape of taonga puoro (Māori musical instruments).

Translations of words used

In the order they’re heard in the video:

  • whānau – family
  • Papatūānuku/Papa – earth mother
  • mauri – life principle
  • kuia – female elder
  • kai – food
  • rongoā – medicine
  • kākahu – clothing
  • pūkenga – skills
  • te wao nui a Tāne – the great forests of Tāne
  • Tānemahuta – god of the forest
  • manu – bird
  • mokomoko – lizard
  • waiata – song
  • Tangaroa – god of the sea
  • Ranginui – sky father
  • Tamanuiterā – the sun
  • whaea – mother, aunt
  • matua – father, uncle