Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Matariki Story

Matariki is the Maori New Year, which has had something of a renaissance in New Zealand over the last few years. Matariki is the Maori name for the Pleiades - the cluster of stars visible around mid-winter here. Matariki celebrations go on for about a month here - from mid June to mid July.

The yearly reappearance of Matariki signifies a time to prepare, to share ideas, to
remember the past and celebrate the future. Matariki can be a time of change,
and growth. During Matariki we acknowledge what we have and what we have to
give. Matariki celebrates the diversity of life. It's a celebration of culture, language,
spirit and people, of our past, present and looking to the future.
From Christchurch City Libraries Matariki Resource Pack

Sybolically I think its a wonderful festival to observe, especially in the southern hemisphere where winter drags on devoid of the celebrations of Christmas and the Christian New Year. My grand plan for this year was to tell a Matariki story to Munchkin for story time, but alas, I never quite got there (life with a second baby is really lowering my standards!) However, I wanted to share it with you, and I wanted to make sure I know where to find it next year!

The story is "The Seven Star Fishes":

'One day a mother fish said to her little fishes

'Now listen carefully, dear children
Be sure you keep close in to the rocks.
Do not venture out ito the open sea,
Today Tataraimaka goes fishing"

Tataraimaka was a gian who fished with an enormous black net. His black net made magic and has been woven from flax.

On this day however the sea was smooth, the sun was at its brightest. Rainbow colours danced about the little fishes as they played their games. They were having so much fun they forgot their mothers words.

Without warning disaster struck. The big black net of Tataraimaka hit the water and all seven fishes were caught. They cried, making the sea salty with their tears.

Tane the God of light heard their cries and felt sorry for them. He took away Tataraimaka's net and hauled it up into the high heavens.

There the seven little fishes were turned into stars. You can see them right now in the evening above the horizon. Six of the star have names - they are Toheti, Toheta, Tupuanuku, Tupuarangi, Ururangi and Waipuna-a-rangi.

But one star remains nameless. It has been left for all the children of the world. Just before going to bed, you may put your name on this star, and in this way you will be among friends as you sleep.

My plan is to create this as a puppet story - with a blue muslin and eight cardboard or felt fishes (a big one for the mummy and seven littler ones) and then have a black sheet (I think I have an old black valance I could cut up) for the net/sky, with stars on one side. Easy ... really!

Also, I saw this book at the local library - must remember to get it for ideas for next year. At our Steiner school they incorporate some Matariki celebrations as part of the lantern walk for St Johns Tides (yep, if you are from the Northern Hemisphere its mighty confusing!).

So did anyone reading do anything for Matariki this year ? If so please leave a comment - I'd love to hear about it!


nova_j said...

snap! i keep meaning to do something with lexi, but haven't gotten round to it.. particularly shameful since she's taken a real interest in space at the mo! i was thinking about making some little star biscuits, but maybe we should do some fish ones too & tell that story..?! thanks for sharing that!

Mary said...

We had the annual Playcentre event. BYO dinner eaten together, fireworks as they should be (in the cold and dark!), bonfire, weaving, waiata, planting.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing that beautiful story! I especially like the last part about the unnamed star. I'm so glad you are using native stories.

Castlequeen said...

We celebrated Matariki too here in Hamilton NZ. I have this book "The Seven Stars of Matariki" by Toni Rolleston-Cummins that I read to my two boys 4&6yrs. We combined the celebrations of a mid winter bonfire, singing "rise up oh flame" followed by a lantern walk and finding little gnome grottos on the way (lit up with candles). Followed by soup and hot chocolate. Later that week we planted garlic to harvest at the time of the summer solstice in January. The children made some flax necklaces.

Thanks for sharing the lovely story.

Castlequeen said...

You have just given me a great idea. We have a cane wreath hanging above the dining table and it is decortaed according to the season or festival. So what does one put up for winter to reflect mother nature when there is no snow, just the occasional frost. Currently I have some skeleton leaves tucked in, some white feathers and some paper snowflakes hanging off it. Next year I think we'll make flax stars. Get the book "Fun with Flax: 50 Projects for Beginners" by Mick Pendergrast. It is fantastic. Most playcentres have it and try the libray. I take my copy when we go camping it is that good.

We gave playcentre a go too but found it far too stimulating and lacked the all important rhythm and reverence.

Thanks again - enjoy reading a waldorf blog from another NZ'er.

Gypsy said...

Castlequeen I love the wreath idea and thanks for the suggestion of the flax book - flax stars would be great. Playcentre wasn't for us either ... although I still love a lot about it! Do you have a blog?

Dawn said...

I didn't know about the Matariki celebration in New Zealand. Thank you for sharing this story; my daughter will be studying your area of the world this fall and I've bookmarked this post so I can tell her this story during that time.

Castlequeen said...

You’re most welcome. I do not have a blog – I feel I spend enough time on the computer as it is, so I leave comments when I feel it is warranted or feel that I can help someone out.

I follow blogs similar to you.

I have some Waldorf inspired toys on TradeMe and some fairytale postcards too which could be used in Class 1 during the fairytale year! – you may be interested. Sort by searching with ‘Waldorf’ if you want to sort out the clutter of other items we have for sale. under the trader - Castlequeen