In Part 1 and Part 2 of this resource, we were introduced to Matariki and her six daughters – learning how each star plays her own special part in preparing the environments of Papatūānuku for the New Year.
In this final section, we will be introducing three of Matariki’s cousins: Puanga/Puaka, Pūtātara and Hine-takurua.
Papatūānuku has entrusted these whetū kanapa (bright stars) with a different, but equally important task: to prepare ngā tāngata – the people.
Puanga (for northern iwi) or Puaka (for southern iwi) leads the way; rising well before Matariki, and high enough in the early morning sky to be seen even in the most mountainous terrain. For this reason, she has been known to step in for her cousin where needed – supporting many southern and western iwi, including Ngāti Toa, to mark the New Year.
Through the positioning of her twinkling arms, Puanga/Puaka tells the people of the season to follow. When she points towards the north, we are to expect the kai (food) coming from the land, sea, and forests to be plentiful. A gesture towards the south, however, tell us to expect the harvest to be much leaner.
She calls upon her children: first Whauwhaupaku (Five finger), and then Puawānanga (White clematis), to come into blossom too. Their distinctive star shaped flowers of pink and white stand out amongst the green of the canopy. From late July through to November, the flowering heralds an important turning point – the departure of takarua (winter) and the arrival of raumati (summer). It is a marker which calls the people to action; to begin food gathering activities, like eeling, once again.
- Just like Puanga/Puaka, we can send messages through the positioning our arms! This type of communication is called semaphore. Learn to send your name using this resource from the USS Slater Museum.
- Create and display your own clusters of whauwhaupaku flowers, or a flowering puawānaga vine in your classroom or playground as a marker for your community of the changing season.
- When we set about gathering our food today, it is usually only from the one source – te hokomaha nui – the ever plentiful supermarket! But where does our kai actually come from? And who are the people (farmers, butchers, produce staff, etc) who prepare it for us to buy? Explore these questions this Matariki.
- In Māori culture there are four main atua (Māori gods) associated with food production: Tāne-mahuta, Tangoroa, Haumiatikitiki and Rongomatāne. Find out more about these figures, and other members of their whānau. The book In the beginning/I Te Tīmatanga by Peter Gossage is a great introduction for young children. Check out some of the activities that Glamorgan Kindergarten from North Auckland got up to around it.
- Te whakapai ake i to koutou reo Māori e pā ana ki te kai! Improve your Māori language associated with food. The resource ‘Te Mahi Kai’ from Te Taura Whiri is really helpful.
- See the tonu (symbol) in the resource above. It has been created “to represent the kai/food we consume from the land and the sea”. This meaning can be seen in its shape (it looks like a waha or mouth), and the koru patterns inside it (the bigger of which represent the atua and the smaller; their children). Celebrate Puanga/Puaka this New Year by creating your own tonu relating to kai.
- Learn about other New Zealand native plants – many of which act as signposts too! For example, a row of Kōuka (Cabbage trees) was traditionally planted to mark a trail through an area like a swamp; and today, the flowering of the Pōhutukawa tells us of the advent of Christmas!
As indicated by her red complexion, Pūtātara has experienced much of life. For this reason, Papatūānuku has asked her with keeping a watchful eye over the other whetū during their journey across the sky. She positions herself in the centre of the group at the rear – where the field of view is best.
As the group climbs higher into the early morning sky, she too ensures that all will arrive to schedule. This is especially important in the case of Matariki and her daughters, who have a habit of trailing behind! Once Matariki is surely visible, Pūtātara will step out into sight too. She sounds the dawning of the new day, and the New Year, upon the horizon with her low, carrying voice.
- A pūtātara – or conch shell trumpet – is a type of taonga puoro (Māori musical instrument). Puoro is the Māori verb for singing; whereas taonga is a noun meaning treasure. What do you treasure? Why do you treasure it? Check out this slideshow, made especially for Matariki 2015, to learn more about some of the taonga of Ngati Toa Rangatira. Put together your own presentation (digital or otherwise) to share your taonga with others too.
- Treasures come in many different forms. Explore taonga (like culture, language, values) that we all collect and give worth, but are intangible (cannot physically be handled). The picture book The Woven Flax Kete/ Te Kete Harakeke by Angela Belcher would make an excellent prompt.
- Taonga puoro have different qualities of voice. The pūtātara is considered to have a loud voice. It gets attention! This is why it is played to warn, or signal to large groups of people. The porotiti – or humming disk – on the other hand, has a quiet voice. It is thereby much more personal. As my colleague Ati once explained it to me – it is played “by yourself, for yourself”. Listen to different taonga puoro, and discuss together the quality of their voice. Watch this Tales from Te Papa episode to see how another taonga puoro, the putorino – or Māori flute – has more than one voice to share. Craft your own porotiti out of cardboard and waxed string. Look at all the fun these children had learning to play theirs (video 1 and video 2)!
- Did you know that instruments have a whānau too? The way they are grouped is based on the way that they make sound. Have hands-on experiences with real instruments from all four families: brass, string, wood wind and percussive, this Matariki.
- Taonga puoro are personified (attributed personal qualities, or human characteristics). For this reason, it is very rare to find any two instruments that are exactly the same; and each instrument is given it’s own personal name by its maker. Craft your own string, wind or percussive instruments. Give your taonga a name and story. Help them to share their voices through performing an instrumental concert for your whānau.
- Ask musicians from your community (professional, amateur or even beginner) to come into your classroom this Matariki to share their musical knowledge and experience with you.
- Play some games together that encourage the habit (and skill) of listening.
- Put together a collection of everyday objects from around your home or classroom. Explore how these might be played as instruments.
Did you know that Tamanui-te-rā (the sun) has two wives: Hine-raumati (the summer maiden) and Hine-takurua (the winter maiden)? Throughout the year, Te Rā slowly journeys between the two – for they wisely live on the opposite side of the sky from each other. His progress either way is marked by the place of his rising on the horizon.
It is said that Hine-raumati dwells on the land in the north, with her elders Rongo, Haumia and Tāne-matua. She sees to the cultivating of crops, and the fattening of game. Hine-takurua, on the other hand, lives far out near the southern sea, with her elder Tangaroa. She supports the migration of the ika (fish), such as blue moki, tuna (eels) and piharau (lampreys), as they go back to their birth place to spawn.
At the New Year, we witness Hine-takurua rising into sky together with her husband. This tells us that her short time with Te Rā – a mere 10 days by some accounts – has come once again to an end. Over the next few mornings, she prepares him for his long journey northwards. Then, on the shortest day (in 2015, this is June 21st), she bids him farewell.
Hine-takurua gets out of bed earlier and earlier so that she might still catch a glimpse of the traveller – but from late July, the distance is too much, and their paths no longer cross. From here, the season will become increasingly warmer, and Koanga, the spring, will be born.
- One of Hine-takurua preparations is to pack a kete (basket or kit) for Te Rā. It is full of all the things that she thinks he may need over the course of his journey. What do you think Hine-takurua packs? What would you pack? Make a group kete, or your own individual one to show your thoughts. Here are some examples shared with us by the Top Centre children (aged 3 and 4 years) of Rotorua Childcare Centre:
- Did you know that the length of our shadows change throughout the year, even if we measure them at exactly the same time of day? During winter, the shadow cast by you at midday will be long; whereas during summer, it will be short! Keep a running record of the length of your shadow, or that of an object in your playground. This is another way for us to mark the distance between Tama-nui-te-rā and Hine-takurua.
- Discover the legend of Maui and the Sun, and see why the sun journeys so slowly between his wives.
- Hine-takurua is the star said to bring the frost, snow and cold to our world. Celebrate the winter maiden this Matariki by bringing frost like textures to your artwork. Cut or arrange your own unique snowflakes patterns. Perhaps experiment with ice painting too!
- Write a special letter to someone from your whānau whom you don’t get to see very often. Send it via the postal system so it too takes a physical journey. Ask the person/or people you have sent it to let you know the date it arrived. Was it a long journey like that of Te Rā?
- Puanga/Puaka (Rigel) and Pūtātara (Betelgeuse) are amongst the brightest stars in Earth’s night sky, and Hine-takarua (Sirius) is the brightest of all (if you don’t include the sun)! Use this online planetarium interactive, and see if you can locate some of the other whetū kanapa who make up the top ten: namely, Atutahi (Canopus); Te taura o te waka o Tama-rereti (The pointers, Alpha and Beta Centauri); Ruawāhia (Arcturus); Whānui (Vega); Puanga-hori (Procyon); and Marere-o-tonga (Achernar).
Use the shape of the constellations (recognisable star patterns) in which the stars sit to help you to find them. Remember – the planetarium is set to your location, and so you will need to flip these Northern Hemisphere pictures before you use them. You may feel a bit back-to-front otherwise!
- Learn more about our ika, and how we go about protecting them! You might like to create your own fishing game with fish that are most commonly caught from New Zealand waters. Make sure to follow the fishing rules for your area while you play. Here are some pictures of the game we use here at Te Papa:
Mauruuru koutou ki katoa o te whānau o Te Papa (Thank you to all of the Te Papa whānau). We appreciate your support in the making of this Matariki resource. A big shout out too goes to Claire Bretherton, Science Curator at Carter Observatory, te tangata e matau ana o nga whetu (who knows the stars).
Our final thanks must go to you, the readers. The response has been huge, and the feedback so heartening. Ko te pai ki a koe, me tou whanau tenei Matariki hou! (Wishing you and your whānau a good new year!)
Ngā mihi mahana,
Te Papa Education.
Looking for more Early Childhood resources? All of our blog posts can be found here.