24 June 2024

Celebrate Matariki with Centre Place

As it gets colder, our thoughts turn to Matariki, the Maaori New Year and an increasingly significant occasion in New Zealand, marked with a public holiday – this year on Friday 28 June. How will you celebrate Matariki with your whaanau?
One of the great things about Matariki is that the cluster can be seen with the naked eye – no telescopes, equipment or even binoculars required. You’ll need to get up early though, the best viewing is just before sunrise, at around 5.30am. At this time, the cluster of stars will be just above the horizon so spend some time before Matariki thinking about an elevated vantage point without too much light pollution. Look to the north-eastern horizon and find Orion’s Belt (Tautoru), also known as The Pot to many. Follow the line of Tautoru to the left, past bright Taumata-kuku (Alderbaran) to a cluster of stars – that’s Matariki!

A famous whakataukii (proverb) says: ‘Matariki hunga nui’ meaning ‘Matariki has many people’ or ‘Matariki of many gatherings’. This whakataukii encourages us to gather together to celebrate the season. There are community events around New Zealand to get involved in – and learn a little too. In and around Hamilton, there are plenty of opportunities to gather. Hamilton City Council’s Maanawatia a Matariki will be popular with families, filling the Hamilton Lake Domain with light, music, entertainment, food and a market. Waikato Museum celebrates with free events, public talks, film screenings and family activities and the Hamilton Astronomical Society will hold a Matariki talk. Visit regularly as more events are added.
Go traditional and gather at home with friends and family for a Matariki feast. Get your Tamariki involved, creating star garlands or Matariki themed crafts. Our kids know a lot more about Matariki than most of us, so get them to follow the Matariki tradition of storytelling and share their knowledge with guests. Try adding a new recipe to your family favourites. You could incorporate new flavours such as horopito or have a go at Parāoa Parai (fry bread), a favourite treat that is crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and as good with butter and jam as it is soaking up gravy!
Fry bread (Edmonds recipe)
2 cups of flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 sachet of dry yeast
¾ teaspoon of salt
1 cup of warm water
2 cups of vegetable or canola oil (save a little to oil your bench)
1. Place the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a bowl and stir to combine. Add most of the warm water and mix to form a soft dough, adding more water as required.
2. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 2 minutes.
3. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and leave for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
4. Oil the bench and gently flatten the dough with your hands to form a square shape, about 1½ cm thick.
5. Cut into 8 even-sized pieces and cover for 20 minutes.
6. When it’s time to cook the fry bread, take care that children are kept at a safe distance. Heat the oil in a frypan. Test heat by placing a wooden spoon handle into the oil. It should steadily bubble around the handle. Allow oil to cool if it is too hot.
7. Carefully place two pieces of dough into the oil and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until puffed and golden. Repeat for the remaining dough.
8. Drain the bread on paper towel. Serve with your favourite toppings, or on the side with your main meal.
Matariki rises in the depths of winter. People would retreat to the warmth and comfort of their homes, conserving warmth and energy, telling stories and playing games. Every year more Matariki books come out, increasingly in both English and Te Reo, why not grab both copies and have a go at Te Reo? If you’re looking for other ways to warm up your space, keep everybody entertained and spoil your nearest and dearest, here are a few of my favourite picks:

Tahi: Star pendant Precious Metals and Diamonds, Rua: Matariki starts Whitcoulls, Toru: Cashmere scarf Acquisitions, Wha: Matariki books (English and Te Reo) Paper Plus, Rima: Star headband Farmers.

2024 is just the third year that we’ve celebrated Matariki with a public holiday, and many of us are still learning about Matariki and finding our own ways to celebrate. However you celebrate at your place, Maanawatia a Matariki!