Monday, 10 June 2013
Before Europeans came to Aotearoa, Maori would look for the reappearance of Matariki in the dawn sky at the end of autumn (ngahuru). For Maori, its sighting was the start of the New Year. When Matariki was seen, big celebrations were held, as well as ceremonies remembering those who had passed away during the year. Maori were among many ancient civilisations that watched for constellations. The Greeks and the Romans founded modern-day astronomy in trying to understand the bright objects they saw above them. Matariki is an open cluster of very bright stars that can be seen in New Zealand in June. There are more than 300 stars in the Matariki constellation, and most people can see six or seven of these with the naked eye. The name Matariki is Maori and includes the following meanings: Mata Riki - tiny eyes Mata Ariki - eyes of God Matariki is 400 light years away from earth. It is a very bright constellation, and can be seen without using a telescope.