Matariki-The Star of the Year

"Matariki ki tua o ngā whetū-Matariki of endless possibilities
— Dr Rangi Matamua

Dr Rangi Matamua says the first and foremost purpose of celebrating Matariki is to acknowledge tīpuna. The mauri and the wairua of those gone from this world before us, both in the year past and their ancestors too, right back to the beginnings of whakapapa. Ensuring their memory in the stars. With Matariki-The Star of the Year Dr Matamua confirms the work of generations of his ancestors. Timi Rāwiri passed an incandescent legacy via a line of tohunga kōkōrangi, to his grandson Dr Matamua, after 20 years of his own study, he shares that knowledge now in this captivating and important book.

It is not an imposing tome, at just 100 pages I consumed it in an evening (the night I received it, the day after ordering-thanks Huia-tino pai tō mahi!). Matariki-The star of the Year explains much of the astronomical science of Matariki in a straightforward manner which demystifies the kaupapa and makes it accessible. At the same time Dr Matamua retains the spellbinding allure of astrology, the stars and the legends they shelter. I loved reading the names of the stars, learning their ancient identities, making the stellar connections from their world to mine.

The history of Matariki traditions are presented, their loss examined. Again its straightforward stuff, told without regret. We learn about kai, weather, navigation. Our ancestors based their lives on a Lunar calendar while we now observe the Solar calendar, explaining the mysteries of modern day Matariki timing. Ideas for getting it right are thankfully proposed.

I feel empowered by this book to install some modern day Matariki custom with my whānau and I think that's just the point. Dr Matamua advocates a collected and directed approach to modern day celebrations. He hopes we can all understand the concepts of Matariki. And looks forward to a time when Kiwis take firm hold of the meaning of Matariki and make it our own unique national celebration. Ka wani kē!

Matariki-Star of the Year-Dr Rangi Matamua, Huia, 2017, $35