The Matariki star cluster contains hundreds of stars but only nine are visible to the naked eye. Each of these nine stars has a distinct story and significance in Māori culture.
According to one Māori myth, the cluster represents a whaea or mother - Matariki - and her six daughters Tupuānuku, Tupuārangi, Waipunarangi, Waitī, Waitā and Ururangi.
The name Matariki refers to both the star cluster as a whole and a specific star, which signifies reflection, hope, our connection to the environment and the health and wellbeing of people.
Pōhutukawa is the star that serves as a reminder of those who have passed on, encouraging us to take the time to remember them and acknowledge their impact on our lives.
Tupuānuku (“tupu” means ‘to grow’ and “nuku” is the shortened version of “Papatuanuku” meaning ‘Earth’) is the star connected with everything that grows in the ground to be harvested or gathered for food.
Tupuārangi is the star associated with food sources that come from the sky, such as birds, or fruit and berries from trees.
Waitī is connected with all freshwater bodies and the food sources sustained by those waters. Waitī watches over freshwater environments such as awa (rivers), roto (lakes), kūkūwai (wetlands), and waipuna (springs).
Waitā represents the ocean and the seafood that can be harvested from it. This star encourages us to respect our coasts, oceans and marine life.
Waipuna-ā-Rangi is connected with rain, hail and snow.
Ururangi is connected with the various winds.
Hiwa-i-te-Rangi is a wishing star, helping us to realise our hopes and aspirations for the coming year.