Matariki Magic: Fun-filled Activities for Kids to Embrace the New Year

Jul 05, 2023Andrea Cummerfield

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars that rises in midwinter and for many Māori, heralds the start of the new year.  The return of the constellation is commemorated by Te Rā Aro ki Matariki 2023, which happens on Friday 14 July this year. Early in the morning, just before dawn, is the optimum time to view the Matariki cluster.

2023 is the second year that New Zealand is celebrating Matariki as an official public holiday. Matariki celebrations provide the opportunity to gather with family and friends to acknowledge the year gone by, prepare for the year ahead and to celebrate with kai, korero, ceremony & entertainment. Below are some ideas that you and your whānau may like to do in celebration of Matariki.

  • Take the children outside on a clear night to observe and learn about the stars and constellations, including the Matariki cluster.
  • Create a Matariki calendar: Help the kids make a special calendar marking the dates of Matariki and the different phases of the moon.
  • Make star-shaped cookies: Bake star-shaped cookies and decorate them with edible glitter or silver icing to represent the stars of Matariki.  The tasty ones shown above are from VJ Cooks website and the recipe can be found here
  • Plant a Matariki garden: Teach children about the importance of nature by planting native plants or herbs associated with Matariki.
  • Storytelling: Share traditional Māori legends and stories about Matariki with the kids, highlighting the significance and cultural importance.
  • Matariki scavenger hunt: Organize a scavenger hunt outdoors or indoors, where children search for specific items related to Matariki, such as stars, moon shapes, or Māori words.

  • Attend a Matariki festival: Check if there are any local Matariki festivals or events happening in your area and take the kids to experience Māori culture and traditions.
  • Matariki crafts: Engage children in Matariki-themed crafts such as making star-shaped lanterns, kites, or weaving flax stars.
  • Matariki feast: Prepare a special Matariki-themed meal with family and friends, incorporating traditional Māori ingredients like kūmara (sweet potato) or rewena bread.
  • Make star lanterns: Help children create beautiful star lanterns using colored paper, glue, and string, and hang them up around the house or in the backyard.
  • Matariki music and dance: Learn Māori songs and dances related to Matariki and have a mini performance or sing-along with the kids.
  • Matariki reflection jars: Decorate small glass jars with Matariki-inspired designs and use them to store positive reflections or wishes for the year ahead.

Enjoy the celebrations!

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