You are hereHome › Matariki
"Matariki whetu ki te Rangi,
Tāngata ora ki te Whenua."
“Matariki in the Sky,
People well-being on Earth”
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I begin by greeting everyone in the languages of the realm of New Zealand, in English, Māori, Cook Island Māori, Niuean, Tokelauan and New Zealand Sign Language. Greetings, Kia Ora, Kia Orana, Fakalofa Lahi Atu, Taloha Ni and as it is the evening (Sign).
It is with great pleasure that Susan and I welcome you all to Government House in Wellington to mark Matariki, the rising of Matariki or the Pleiades or Seven Sisters, or Subaru in the constellation of Taurus that signals the Māori New Year.
As Governor-General, I would like to speak briefly about why you are here this evening and what Matariki may mean for modern New Zealand.
At the outset I should add that this is the second time that Government House has hosted a Matariki celebration. The first occasion occurred last year, with a celebratory event held at Government House in Auckland.
This House reopened 83 days ago, after being closed for more than two years for a major Conservation Project. During that time, it was literally pulled apart and put back together, receiving a new roof, new services, considerable earthquake strengthening as well as general refurbishment.
In that regard it is wonderful to have you here at Government House here in Wellington. I trust that many of you will take an opportunity to look around the House, now restored to its Edwardian style and enjoy its art and artefacts during the course of the evening.
As to the reason we are gathered here this evening. Matariki is an ancient festival that has its roots deep in Polynesia. The 19th and early 20th Century ethnographer Elsdon Best records that the Pleiades were known as Mata-ali’i in Samoa, Makahiki in Hawai’i, Matari’i in Tahiti and Mataliki in Futuna.
But in Aotearoa, Māori made the festival their own, changing the commencement of the year from December to June that is from the evening rising of the Pleiades to their brief appearance at sunrise.
Falling near the winter solstice, Matariki in New Zealand marks the turning point when the Sun, which has travelled far to the north, begins to return to the south and the days again begin to lengthen.
In traditional Māori lore, Matariki held many meanings. It was a time when ancestors and those who had died more recently were remembered. It was a time when new crops were sown, crops from the prior season having been harvested, the full storehouses making it a time of celebration and feasting.
The marking of Matariki dwindled throughout the 20th Century but with the new millennium, the festival has been revived.
Matariki can be described as another marker of the ongoing renaissance of Māori culture and tradition. Like the revival of Te Reo Māori and carving, crafts, art, song and dance, Matariki celebrates much that is special about Māori culture and adds to making New Zealand distinctive.
It is also a time to take stock of the wellbeing of our immediate and wider communities. The past year has held a series of traumatic and tragic events on a scale not seen before, which calls for all New Zealanders to show generosity of spirit, extending help to those who have been affected.
As Susan and I complete the term in the role of Governor-General in August, it is fitting to acknowledge and praise the wonderful community strength of New Zealand and its people.
We are a nation of talented, creative and resourceful individuals who, together, ensure the success and prosperity of our country. It has been a privilege to see the overwhelmingly positive activities of those communities over the past five years and to witness the country joining as one family at times of adversity.
In that regard may I also explain the particular collection of guests we have in the room this evening. Represented are New Zealanders from a variety of fields including business leaders, chief executives, sporting, secondary and tertiary education, health, social service and community agencies, local government, the arts, media, wider Wellington marae representatives, and Māori leaders.
Each person here contributes to the diversity, health and success of this country in your own ways. That contribution is recognised this evening by your presence at this celebration and it is appropriate to offer praise for your work.
I trust this evening will provide opportunity for you to connect with other motivated and successful New Zealanders who all share in the vision of a prosperous nation.
As to the Matariki notion of sharing and crop sowing, there is a small gift for each individual present tonight of a Kawakawa seedling.
The kawakawa tree is significant and sacred to Māori. It is known for its many and varied traditional herbal curative properties and has been termed by some as the ‘pharmacy of the forest’.
The fruit, bark and leaves of the kawakawa all have medicinal properties. Māori custom is to use the leaves as a head wreath for tangihanga, to chew the leaves to reduce toothache and to place leaves on a fire to create an insect repellent. I will leave it to you all to research the many other uses for this native plant and I trust that the planting of it will be a shared memory for everyone here on being part of the first Matariki celebration, to our knowledge, being held at Government House Wellington.
I end with the following words quoted from the booklet “Matariki” published by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO:
In Maori it goes as follows:
I te wā o Matariki, ka whakanui tātou i tō tātou mana motuhake i tēnei ao.
He manaaki I te whenua e noho nei tātou ti runga, he mīharo ki tō tātou whaea, ki a Papatūānuku.
I te roanga atu o Matariki, ka ako tātou i ngā āhuatanga o rātou mā kua hoki ki te kāinga tūturu.
Ko ngā mahi me ngā kōrero o mua. Ko ō tātou heke. Ko ō tātou wheinga.
Ko Matariki te tohu o te tupu. He wā e puta kē ai.
He wā whakariterite, he wā kōkiri kaupapa.
I te wā o Matariki, he mahara atawhai ki ngā taonga kei a tātou inaianei, hei koha atu hoki ā taihoa.
He whakanui a Matariki i ngā tini āhuatanga o te oranga.
He whakanui hoki i te tikanga, I te reo, I te wairua me te iwi.
Ko Matariki tō Aotearoa tau hou.
In English it goes as follows:
During Matariki we celebrate our unique place in the world.
We give respect to the whenua on which we live, and admiration to our mother earth Papatūānuku.
Throughout Matariki we learn about those who came before us.
Our history. Our family. Our bones.
Matariki signals growth.
It’s a time of change.
It’s a time to prepare, and a time of action.
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.
Matariki is our Aotearoa Pacific New Year.
No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tēnā koutou katoa.
AIDS Candlelight MemorialMessage from the Governor-General
South Canterbury and North Otago Regional Visit20-23 February: An overview
Waitangi Day - 2013Governor-General and Lady Janine visit Waitangi and Auckland
New Year Message 2013Governor-General issues his 2013 New Year message
New Year Honours 2013New Zealanders recognised by The Queen of New Zealand
Birthday cakeSecrets of Government House birthday cake revealed
Diamond Jubilee visitRoyal couple to visit Auckland, Wellington, Manawatu and Christchurch
Royal receptionPrince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall prepare for trip to downunder
New Zealand's Governor-GeneralGovernment House publishes new booklet
2012 London Olympic GamesThe Governor-General supports the NZ Olympic Team in London
Diamond Jubilee messageThe Governor-General's Diamond Jubilee message
Open to view - credentials ceremoniesWatch the video of a credentials ceremony at Government House
Western Bay of Plenty regional visitThe Governor-General makes his first official visit.
Open DaysGovernment House opens its doors to mark the Diamond Jubilee
Christchurch and Canterbury Earthquake AnniversaryThe Governor-General's Programme
Waitangi Celebrations 2012The Governor-General's first Waitangi Day Programme
Governor-General's New Year MessageSir Jerry Mateparae issues his 1st New Year message - watch the video
State Opening of ParliamentGovernor-General announces the Government's plans
Speaker-elect confirmation ceremonyDr Smith confirmed as Speaker of the House
Appointment of the new GovernmentThe Governor-General appoints the new Government
Queen's Diamond Jubilee EmblemNew emblem to mark the Diamond Jubilee
Rugby World CupMessage from the Queen of New Zealand on the All Blacks' victory
State Swearing-in of Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry MateparaeA Government House short film
Royal NZ Navy 70th AnniversaryThe Governor-General hosted and attended associated events
New Zealand Gallantry AwardsGovernment House has today issued a special honours list
One year on from the 4 September 2010 Canterbury earthquakeGovernor-General issues a message
Swearing in ceremonySir Jerry Mateparae to become NZ's 20th Governor-General
Sir Paul ReevesNew Zealand's first Governor-General of Maori descent dies
Visit by King George Tupou V of TongaThe Governor-General hosted a State Welcome for the King of Tonga
Māori King visits Government HouseThe King plants a tree to mark the visit
MatarikiThe Governor-General's 2011 Matariki Message
The Royal WeddingSir Anand and Lady Susan attended the Royal Wedding on 29 April
ANZAC Day messageThe Governor-General's message for ANZAC Day commemorations
The National Christchurch Memorial ServiceDetails and photos are available here.
Christchurch EarthquakeGovernor-General offers the support of all New Zealanders
Canterbury earthquakeWorld leaders send messages of support to New Zealand
Waitangi Day 2011Sir Anand Satyanand's last Waitangi Day as Governor-General
New Year MessageGovernor-General issues his message for 2011
Pike River Mine TragedyWorld leaders send messages of support to New Zealand
Governor-General visits CanterburyA visit to support and encourage those affected by the earthquake
New Year MessageGovernor-General issues his message for 2010
Governor-General's 2009 New Year MessageNew Zealanders urged to volunteer