Seven Stars of Matariki
Written by Toni Rolleston-Cummins, Seven Stars of Matariki is the story of the Maori New year and the origins of Matariki constellation according to Maori legend.
An adventurous young man called Mitai lives with his seven handsome brothers in the village of Maketu. Mitai watches his brothers become bewitched by seven beautiful women. The spell the brothers were under meant they could no longer eat, work or hunt. Realising the women are patupaiarehe, fairy women, he knows they must be cast far away. They are given to Urutengangana, the god of the stars, who places them in the heavens farthest from the earth. Only once a year, at winter solstice, he allows their beauty to shine in the eastern sky as the seven stars of Matariki.
Known around the world as the Pleiades, the seven stars of Matariki are a cluster of stars that rise in mid-winter. The constellation begins to rise in the last few days of May. This symbolises the coming of the Maori New Year. Some iwi (tribes) start celebrations when the seven stars of Matariki are first seen, however it is the first new moon after Matariki that officially signals the Maori New Year.
Author: Toni Rolleston-Cummins
First Published 2008
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