In the Māori language, Matariki is both the name of the Pleiades star cluster and also of the season of its first rising which happens in late May or early June. This signals the start of the Māori New Year. Different tribes celebrate Matariki at different times. Some celebrate it when Matariki rises in May or June, others celebrate it at the first new moon or first full moon which happens after the rise of Matariki.
Traditionally Matariki was a period to reflect on those who had died in the year just passed. But Matariki is also a happy period as it is a time when crops had been harvested and seafood and birds had been collected. With this plentiful supply of food Matariki was a time for celebrations which included singing, dancing and feasting. Traditionally Matariki was a season to celebrate and prepare the ground for the coming year. Offerings of the produce of the land were made to the gods, including Rongo, god of cultivated food.
Matariki celebrations were once a popular celebration but this ended in the 1940s. In the 2000s this was revived. The Māori language Commission began a move in 2001 to “reclaim Matariki” and now Matariki celebrations are common throughout New Zealand. A popular custom during Matariki celebrations is the flying of kites. According to ancient customs they flutter close to the stars. There are many events to celebrate Matariki this year.
To find a full list of events throughout the country check out the links at the bottom of this page http://www.mch.govt.nz/nz-identity-heritage/matariki
Happy New Year!