(All notes below were gathered by myself from a presentation delivered by Rangi Matamua – Te Whetu Tapu o te tau, Rotorua Museum 25/6/15)..
Matariki; derived from “nga mata o te Ariki Tawhirimatea”..
-the eyes of the ancestor Tawhirimatea
-shards or to shatter
-also know as the constellation Pleaides
Matariki is only one small component of a larger field. There are many different stars and many different korero or purakau (stories/myths and legends) according to those stars and the patterns they form.
Rangi decided to study more into this field in Maori astronomy/myths, as he felt there was no origin in tikanga whakaaro (correct interpretation according to te ao Maori). He said, “people today are reciting and re-interpreting things about Matariki that are presented from non-Maori.”
Rangi acquired a 400 page manuscript which contains the names, description, characteristics of over 12,000 stars. This manuscript was written by two koro (grandfather, elder male) in Rangi’s lineage, they had a reputation as Tohunga Whaiwhaia or Tohunga Kikorangi meaning astronomical experts in te ao Maori. Their names were Te Kokau and Rawiri Te Kokau, father and son. Rangi said this manuscript was sought after by the authors Eldson Best and Percy Smith who now have written their own references/books about Maori astronomy (written after this manuscript).
In te ao Maori, Matariki is the start of a new year, the Maori new year; with this time brings hope for growth, bountiful harvest, plenty of fish and personal or communal desire..
..but this was also a time to acknowledge those who have passed on.. (this process is usually done first before any celebrations can begin).. This is a time to mourn but also to let go of all the pain, grief and loss and start a fresh for the new year..
The phrase, “kua wheturangi hia”.. refers to the dead being now acknowledge as stars..
Traditionally, there was/is a whole ceremonial process where the iwi (tribe) come together, a chief or minister asks the question, “ko wai te mate?” (who do you name that has passed on?).. whanau (families) name their loved ones and the acknowledgement process begins..
Rangi gave an interpretation of what each star depicts and represents, and the annual characteristics they portray in relation to how the year is going to operate; the weather, change, personal moods and other..
He ended on the question or comment.. are we as (Maori people).. missing the spiritual connection to our environment.. we have lost who we are..