As we adapt to winter and time indoors our spirits are lifted by the appearance of the Seven Sisters, collectively known as Matariki in Maori lore.
Solistice comes on June 21st and soon after Matariki (Pleiades) emerges from below the horizon. Traditionally the gardeners had a keen eye on the star cluster. If they were clear and bright, it was a sign that a favourable and productive season lay ahead and planting would begin in September. If the stars appeared hazy and closely bunched together, a cold winter was in store and planting was postponed until October.
With harvest complete and the storehouses full at this time, Matariki was a time for singing, dancing and feasting as well as remembering those who’d passed in the preceding year.
Flying kites “close to the stars” was an old tradition which has been revived and to it has been added a wealth of events: tree planting, exhibitions, planetarium shows, plays, concerts, storytelling, workshops – hundreds of opportunities to enrich our winter calendar.