Old New Zealand


The period of winter solstice in New Zealand forms the start of the Maori calender. It is marked by the appearance of the Pleiades (Matariki) which can be seen around dawn in north eastern skies. Matariki ("little eyes") is also observed in other parts of polynesia, Mata-li'i in Samoa, Matari'i in Tahiti and Makali'i in Hawaii. The tribes have their own traditions around the origins of Matariki. One legend hads it that when Papatuanuku (earth mother) and Ranginui (sky father) were separated by their offspring that Tawhirimatea (God of the winds) became angry, tore out his own eyes and cast them to the heavens to form Matariki or the Pleiades.

More on Matariki:

Maori Language Commission
Tai Tokerau Tourism
Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand