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On the 24th of June 2022, Aotearoa New Zealand first celebrated Matariki as a public holiday. It is the first public holiday to recognise Te Ao Māori.
Government thinking on Matariki was led by The Matariki Advisory Group, recognised experts in Te Ao Māori and the mātauranga associated with Matariki and the Maramataka. The Group asked that Government be guided by the whakataukī ‘Matariki hunga nui’ (Matariki brings us together).
The Matariki holiday will always fall on a Friday, in the expectation that people will use the new long weekend to travel back to their hometowns and spend time with their whānau.
Matariki is an abbreviation of ‘Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea’, meaning ‘The Eyes of the God Tāwhirimātea’ and refers to the Messier 45 star cluster, known in the west as the Pleiades or The Seven Sisters, in Japan as Subaru, and by many other names by many other cultures around the world.
The predawn rise of Matariki over Aotearoa in midwinter marks the beginning of the Māori New Year, a time of peace and joy, remembrance of those who have passed, and togetherness with whānau.
The calendar date of Matariki will shift annually to align with Maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar. It will always fall on a Friday.