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7 or 9 stars of Matariki? check out the resources & ideas.

Updated: May 26, 2023

Are there seven or nine stars? The answer would impact on my resources and teaching. Matariki is not too far away and knew it was time to have conversations and reflect.

Dr Rangi Matamua has been sharing a misconception that there are 7 stars when there are 9. In his book Matariki: the star of the year he explores questions like: What is Matariki? How did Maori traditionally celebrate Matariki? When and how should Matariki be celebrated? The book is based on research and interviews with Maori experts and sheds light on Matariki.

Ma te mohio ka marama: through knowledge comes light.

It was time to have conversation, reflect and decide how this new information would or could impact on my teaching. If I decided to follow Dr Rangi’s new information then I would now be faced with resources that did not align with this new information and asked myself ‘what do I do?’.

Last year I spoke to my cultural advisor and instead of answering she asked what is it you know and who taught you? My knowledge was not my own and came from local iwi and Kuia. I had been taught about the 7 so what of Te Iwa o Matariki So I used the resources I had and acknowledged the new knowledge. The pukapuka I used and worked well in storytelling, small world play and activities in 2017 were The seven kites of Matariki , Matariki and Tane and the stars which is sadly out of print.

After further reading, watching webinars and discussions I was learning more and ready to add to my kete the 9 whetū. BUT what do I do with my other resources? I asked this of my cultural supervisor and she said that many of the Māori pūrākau or whakapapa narratives have been told with variations and that I could acknowledge this and the change and still use my resources. This sat well with me but I still wanted to find new resources that acknowledged Te Iwa o Matariki. This year I will be using both and we will see what happens next year.

I found The stolen stars of Matariki and since last year story baskets have been a huge hit and so I created one to support this pukapuka. This pūrākau is great as it opens up a possible reason for the talk of seven stars as two were stolen. I also sought new Māori pūrākau or whakapapa narratives and created small world play for the retelling of The legend of the seven whales, Maui and the sun and Hinepau.

I have pre-ordered Twinkle Twinkle Matariki and I am looking forward to getting it and creating a story basket.

There are other pukapuka that do not include the number of starts but celebrate Matariki: Tawhirimatea: a Song for Matariki which includes a waiata and references to the natural world and The Little Kiwi's Matariki which talks about celebrating Matariki with whanau, food and fun and Ruru's hangi which is a sequel to the little kiwi's Matariki.

I found this waiata really helpful as it includes all the stars.

I have also been collecting whetū since last year and will add some sensory play. I have coloured salt and will make some cloud dough which I have yet to try. I will set the whetū up with wooden peg dolls so that tamariki can tell their own Matariki pūrākau.

The nine stars of Matariki.:

Matariki – the mother of the other stars in the constellation. Rehua is the father but is not considered part of the Matariki constellation.

Pōhutukawa – connects Matariki to the dead and is the star that carries our dead across the year Tupuānuku – is tied to food that grows in the ground.

Tupuārangi – is tied to food that comes from above your head such as birds and fruit.

Waitī – is tied to food that comes from fresh water.

Waitā– is tied to food that comes from salt water.

Waipunarangi – is tied to the rain.

Ururangi – is tied to the winds.Hiwaiterangi/Hiwa – is the youngest star in the cluster, the star you send your wishes to.

Want to see more Matariki story baskets and ideas then check out my other blogs.

Until next time.


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