The appearance of Matariki (also known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters) and Puanga (the brightest star in the Orion constellation) heralds the start of Māori New Year.
In 2019, Matariki can be seen from 25 to 28 June on the North-East horizon. There are about 500 stars in the Matariki cluster; however, only seven of them are visible without a telescope. Compared with other star clusters, Matariki is close to Earth – but it’s still 440 light years away. (If you drove there in a car at a speed of 100 kilometres an hour, you would arrive in 4.8 billion years.)
Matariki’s reappearance in the north-east sky is not visible in all parts of New Zealand, especially in areas to the west of mountains. For iwi in Taranaki and Whanganui, and on the West Coast of the South Island, the new year begins with the rising of Puanga, the brightest star in the Orion constellation.
Ka puta Matariki ka rere Whānui.
Ko te tohu tēnā o te tau e!
Matariki reappears, Vega starts its flight.
The new year begins!