Friday, June 24, 2022

Derek Mackie: Making the most of Matariki

Another public holiday - who doesn’t love one of those? 
Well for starters, your employer probably, who has to pay you for another day of no work. Or in the case of our burgeoning public sector workforce, all of us who have to pay taxes to give them another day off. 

 But I don’t want to be a killjoy. Public holidays are a welcome break to spend time with your loved ones - that is, if you haven’t seen enough of them over the past couple of years in lockdown. 
So, I thought I should learn a bit more about Matariki and the customs surrounding our newest public holiday. Where better to go than OneNews Online for some inspiration [1]. 

 Sure enough, I quickly found an article with all the dos and don’ts for a successful Matariki, and I quote: 

 “Matariki is traditionally a time to reflect and reset, gather together, honour those who have died, celebrate the present and plan for the future.”   And why not? 

 And no self-respecting article is complete without an “expert” to impart their unique knowledge and vision. 
In this case, “Dr Rangi Mātāmua, who is a leading expert on Matariki and Māori astronomy, says it's a holiday for everyone.” 

 I wasn’t aware that Maori studied astronomy, which is defined (on Google at least) as “a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and evolution.” 
Like most ancient cultures, Maori observed the stars and gave names to different constellations and probably used them as navigation tools at night, but I don’t think that’s astronomy. 

 Hey, I’m probably nit-picking and don’t want to detract from the uplifting and positive tone of my blog so let’s just be glad that we have expert advice confirming that Matariki is “a holiday for everyone”, just in case you were wondering. 

 Dr Matamua advises against buying presents, like we do at Christmas. This will likely elicit a collective groan from the NZ retail sector who are struggling to recover from the ravages of government Covid restrictions, a floundering economy and a cost-of-living crisis. 
Our expert does recommend watching movies though - thank goodness, say the cinemas. No doubt, this is the modern-day equivalent of gathering together and sharing traditional folklore around the fire. And it’s a lot more comfortable, especially in late June, when it’s bloody nippy outside and getting a fire lit, with the ground being so wet, is an onerous task. 
Having some popcorn and an ice-cream just adds to the occasion. 

 So, getting purely personal now, I thought I should work my way through the list of suggestions to reflect and reset

 gather together - Just like every Friday, in our house it’s takeaway night so all our family make sure they’re there so they don’t miss out on a free meal. Once the food arrives, the various attendees usually vanish to their rooms for online activities and friend-chat. 
I’ll have to make a special effort tonight and insist that meals are provided at the communal dining table only, so we can reflect together. 

 honour those who have died - I’m extremely lucky not to have lost any family or friends over the past year or so but there’s no time limit on remembrance 

 celebrate the present - Mmmm, not so easy. On the positive side, I’m still here and there are no lockdowns. 
However, things could be a hell of a lot better and I blame our current Labour government for the divisive and parlous state of “the present” and the fractured condition NZ society finds itself in. 

 plan for the future - That’s easy. Make sure my passport is up to date so I can book a trip abroad and get away from NZ for a bit. It’s become all so PC, woke and intolerant. 
Oh yeah, and vote to get rid of this useless government in 2023. 

 There we go. Easier than I thought. 
So, I wish everyone a very merry(?) Matariki and hope for a better, more tolerant, fairer and less divisive NZ in the very near future. 


Derek Mackie is a geologist with a keen interest in current affairs.


Phil said...

I have read some curious comments in recent days. I think Nanaia Mahuta said this holiday is part of restoring the country to what it was. I assume she means pre colonial. Another comment said this is a building block to a new country. I thought what does that mean?

Anonymous said...

Good article. Matariki protocols are something new so I reflected on how one should practise them so as to not offend those whose forefathers over the millennia saw more sun than my grandpas grandpas grandpa. I think I have it sussed. Food: kumara instead of potatoes; watercress instead of lettuce; KFC instead of pizza hutt. Tellie: League instead of tennis. Shopping is a no-no - but TAB is fine and receiving koha is good too 'cause it's tax-free. Yeah, there is so much to like about Matariki and why we would all want to indulge in Maori culture - if only for one day a year - so we can all become closer to each other.

5th generation Kiwi said...

Our media has been saturated with Matariki advertising plus many public events throughout the country. The question is as none of this comes for free how much did the taxpayer and Ratepayers fork out. How many extra medical professionals could have been funded for the same spend?

Empathic said...

Yes, it seems that we now need to accept the name 'astronomy' for the recognition of a star cluster in which there is considered to be a mummy star, daddy star and children stars. Astronomy here means respecting stories about various relationship events and behaviours of mummy, daddy and baby stars and other stars from different clusters or constellations towards each other. Astronomy means attributing a different power to each of the stars such as predicting, or bringing about, a good crop this year, a good availability of certain fish and so forth. Astronomy means offering food to those stars out of gratitude; the stars no doubt will feel thoroughly appreciated and will end up with full tummies. A star sign heralding the time for humans, or some humans to gather, reflect, reset, reflect, honour the dead, celebrate the present and plan for the future is clearly astronomy of the highest order.

Perhaps the term has been misspelt and should have included an 'l' and 'g' instead of an 'n' and 'm'.

But then again, those born under my star sign don't believe in astrology...

Anonymous said...

Ah, Matariki.  I grew up learning about the ancient Greeks and Egyptians who mapped the skies and had a huge knowledge of astronomy and star and planet position predictions. Captain James Cook, who mapped the coastline of New Zealand, sailed his vessel all the way across the world from England to the Pacific Islands to observe the transit of Venus in 1769 before sailing it back again. This was the first of three such magnificent sailing achievements, whereas the main thing that Maoris are talking about is that they planted their new veges when The Pleiades (“The Seven Sisters”) star cluster appeared above the dawn horizon! It is no more wonderful than when I see the constellation Scorpio and its brightest star Antares appear in November - because I then get ready for my birthday later in the month! And now all the employers have to pay staff for another day off work. The (Labour) Govt MP’s contributed nothing, except for a tick in the “more holidays” box. And self-employed, unemployed and retired people get nothing extra. How about making all public holidays tax deductible for employers? Now that would be progressive. At my place, there was cloud and rain. Such a pity that I couldn’t go out and gaze up in wonder and sing a Maori chant ………. or perhaps a lament, in the current situation that New Zealand finds itself in.

Deirdre said...

A few days ago(22 June) (perhaps the shortest day) at c 0620hrs; A clear sky. Ground temperature zero, I saw the planets aligned. - From highest to lowest - Saturn: overhead, Jupiter: beside the Moon, Mars: a little fainter than last month, Uranus: only visible through my monocular but my first ever sighting of it, Venus: the brightest as usual at about 30 degrees elevation, Mercury: nearest the horizon marking the Eastern end of the line. This was the first time ever that I had recognised Mercury and the first time I had found Uranus. I needed to look up the Stellarium chart to find where to look along the line for Uranus but Mercury was bright enough to pick out. The difference this time was that I was aware what planet it was I saw in the low Eastern sky. Now I need to check the Stellarium programme (App) again to locate Neptune, the only one missing from the queue. Who can care about matariki while our whole solar system is lining up for us? BTW, If anyone there is interested in such astral matters, Stellarium is available free and easily downloaded by putting it name into any search engine (google/ yahoo/ etc) Just for interest I also entered Seven Sisters in the web search and read that there are 47 different stories and names for the star cluster that we are given a new holiday for.

Anonymous said...

Its the worship aspect of the Hautapa our PM did if offering a food offering.
This isn’t just a holiday, it’s rebirth of Maori Paganism and the Maori gods.
No thank you, I’m chock full of Maori Apartheid from this lot.