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June 28



Matariki is celebrated annually in New Zealand. From 2022, it will be marked as a public holiday, but its history goes back thousands of years. Matariki is the Māori name for the constellation that in other parts of the world is known as the Pleiades. When the stars of Matariki are seen in the sky before dawn, it marks the beginning of the Maori New Year. The exact date varies, depending on when Matariki appears.

Matariki is a time to think about the people who have died in the previous year, In Māori custom, at this time of year, their spirits can be freed from the earth to become stars. Ceremonies are held to honour those who have died since the last Matariki.

It is also a harvest festival, thanking the gods for the harvest. This is marked with feasts and dancing. The appearance of the stars is a sign of the conditions ahead. If the stars are clearly visible, planting the new crop would begin in September. If they were dim or hazy, planting was delayed, as the winter was expected to be cold.

Matiriki celebrations almost died out during the twentieth century, but have since been revived.

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June 28
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