Sun rises on the first Matariki public holiday

Photo: Nicholle Roberson. Supplied video.

The country has awoken today to its first distinctly New Zealand public holiday, Te Rā Aro ki a Matariki.

In Māori culture, Matariki is both the name of the Pleiades star cluster and of the celebration of its first rising in late June or early July.

This marks the beginning of the new year in the Māori lunar calendar. Matariki was made an official public holiday in New Zealand in April 2022, with the first celebration being today.

As dawn broke, photographers pointed their cameras towards the sky to capture the star cluster as the sun rose.

Tauranga's Amit Kamble/Exploring Night Sky Photography captured a stunning image looking towards Moturiki/Leisure Island. Check it out here.

At dawn today, a new Ātea-ā-Rangi – a ritual space – was be opened on the summit of Mauao, signifying the start of Matariki.

Back down at Mauao’s base, a community day festival will be held at the Mauao Campground from 9am-3pm. Read more here.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined the nation’s celebrations at a traditional Hautapu ceremony early this morning.

 “This is a special day not only for New Zealand, but globally as we celebrate our first authentically Māori public holiday, which has been met with overwhelming support,” says Ardern .

"Today we take another meaningful step forward in understanding what makes us unique as a country, and what holds us together as a nation."

Minister for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti Kelvin Davis says Matariki is a proud illustration of mātauranga Māori or Māori knowledge that has been passed down generationally. 

 "Traditionally Matariki was a time where Māori would give thanks for all the blessings of the past year and reconnect with one another," says Davis.

"From today onwards we can annually embed into our calendars a national holiday that is unique to NZ and is inclusive of all of our people."

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