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How to celebrate Matariki

Matariki marks the start of the Māori new year and is signified by a cluster of bright stars becoming visible in New Zealand’s early morning sky during the mid-winter months.

Matariki highlights the tangata whenua view of the world and is a time for families to gather to learn, celebrate, and honour those who had passed in the previous year.

Matariki celebrations will often include the lighting of ritual fires, singing waiatas (songs) and sharing kai (food). At its core, Matariki is about reconnecting with your home and whānau.

How to celebrate Matariki

As Matariki marks a fresh start, it’s an important time to reflect on the previous year and embrace new beginnings. Establishing goals to improve your overall health is a great way to help set a positive example for your whānau and move into the new year with a sense of purpose.

In Māori mythology, Tumatauenga, the god of war and human activities, contributed muscles (strength and power) to the making of the human body. In the days before us, Māori warriors, as they become fitter, stronger and faster, would see the twitching of muscle fibres as an acknowledgement to Tumatauenga. From this, you can see the modern concepts of physical activity merging with Māori mythology.  

Why not use taonga takaro (traditional Māori games) to set and achieve your exercise goals this new year? See below for a link to where to find some ideas. 

Another great way to celebrate Matariki is through making and sharing kai. Kai is an important part of ceremonial events such as tangi, karakia and mihimihi. 

Check out the recipe below for making a healthy boil up, a popular and delicious Māori meal. This recipe contains four different types of vegetables.

Eating meals with lots of vegetables and other foods high in fibre can help reduce the risk of cancer. 

Healthy boil up


1 tbsp noni (oil)

4 reme (lamb) shoulder chops, fat trimmed

2 riki (onions), chopped

3 kāreit (carrots), chopped

1 kumara, chopped

2 kо̄tero (potatoes), chopped

1 tbsp winika (vinegar)

4 cups watercress/puha


  1. Heat oil in medium/high heat in a large pot
  2. Add lamb and brown on each side
  3. Add onions and carrots and fry until soft
  4. Add remaining ingredients (except watercress)
  5. Cover with water and bring to the boil
  6. Occasionally skim the fat off the surface with a spoon
  7. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours until meat is tender, and vegetables are cooked (they should be soft when pierced with a fork).
  8. Add watercress/puha and serve!

For more healthy recipes for both you and your whānau (in English and te reo), see the link below.