This year Tongan Youth Trust alongside the whole of New Zealand celebrates the first Matariki [the Maori New Year]. It was announced as an official public holiday marked on the 24th of June 2022. One of the meanings of Matariki is “new beginning” which identifies as:
Matariki is known in the Maori culture as the star cluster in the sky, it only appears here in New Zealand during the early morning sky during winter season. The celebration of Matariki allows us to explore and learn about the traditions of the first settlements here of New Zealand who took place about 100 years ago before the colonization.
Matariki or the cluster of stars appears around the world during different timelines but here in New Zealand, it appears during the rainy season in winter. In English the word Matariki is referred to in ancient Greek word as the Pleiades or the seven sisters: In Hawaii, it is known as Matali’i [eyes of royalty]: in Japan, it is known as “gathered together”. And in Tonga, the word Matariki is used to describe a cluster of trees that grow together: “ ’Oku Mataliki hake ‘enau ‘asi”.
To mark Matariki, Tongan Youth Trust planted new plants as a representation of a new beginning and a New Year for the Maori. Not only that but also putting up the Maori flag together with the Tongan flag to educate Tongan youths on the important tradition of the indigenous people of Aotearoa.
As said by John Tagi [Tongan Youth Trust Coordinator] “There is still more to come for us to celebrate Matariki for the upcoming Matariki”.