Wellington: New Zealand will celebrate the Maori New Year on July 14 this year and mark its newest public holiday for the second time after last year’s inaugural celebration as a statutory holiday.
Celebrations leading up to Matariki began on Thursday as a booklet containing karakia (Maori prayer) for each of the nine stars of Matariki was launched at an event at the Dark Sky Sanctuary in Lake Tekapo of New Zealand’s South Island.
Matariki is a special occasion in the New Zealand calendar which marks the start of the Maori New Year, signified by the Matariki cluster of stars reappearing in the night sky.
For Maori, the appearance of Matariki heralds a time of remembrance, joy and peace. It is a time for communities to come together and celebrate.
The booklet will be distributed widely across the country to schools and communities to serve as an important resource that would support people with their own preparations as they decided how to mark Matariki, said Minister of Maori Crown Relations Kelvin Davis.
Matariki was marked for the first time as an official public holiday last year.
“It was a beautiful moment to see how the nation took joy in celebrating and embracing Matariki last year,” Davis said.
Data suggests at least 87 per cent of New Zealanders now have some understanding of what Matariki is about and means, he said.