On Tuesday 21 June 2022, our pre-school mokopuna, their whanau and the Birthright team, celebrated our first official Matariki together!
Matariki (Māori New Year) is a time for reflection, both on the year before and the year ahead. We remember and acknowledge those who have passed, while also making memories with those who still surrounded us. Acknowledgement of Matariki lasts for a month.
Birthright’s two early childhood centres, Swinburn House and Tom Parker House, spent that time teaching our mokopuna about Matariki.
In Maori legend, Papatūānuku (Earth Mother) and Ranginui (Sky Father) produced a multitude of children, some of whom are celebrated through the names of the stars during Matariki. There are nine stars of Matariki visible to the naked eye – depicted as seven children and two parents.
Here are some of the fun and creative ways that the Birthright team helped our mokopuna honour these stars, by providing a range of different experiences and activities to create treasured memories.
The Matariki star represents wellbeing and health. Meanwhile, Pohutakawa and Hiwa-i-te-rangi are associated with those who have passed and symbolise our aspirations for the year ahead.
We celebrated these three stars by looking at emotions. Learning how to describe how we feel, and discussing how to support doing this. We also began to create pepeha alongside our whanau for each of the children, allowing us to acknowledge those that came before them. We remembered those who have moved on from Birthright too, and looked ahead with our new team of Kaiako.
Tupu-ā-rangi symbolises TanēMahuta (God of the Forests and Birds). This star was acknowledged by jumping in leaves, learning about the seasons, and how the trees change with them. We also talked about the healthy gift that trees provide – fruit.
This worked well alongside Haumia-tiketike (God of Uncultivated Food) and the star named Tupu-ā-nuku. In contrast, we learnt about harvesting the cultivated food that we plant in our gardens throughout the year. The children had fun planting gardens at Swinburn House and creating our own little eco-systems at Tom Parker House with soil and chia seeds. It was a great way for our mokopuna to discover how plants grow and contribute to our health.
The children also learnt about Ururangi and Waipuna-ā-rangi, the stars that represent the winds and rains, in support of Tawhirimātea (God of Winds and Storms). Our mokopuna thought about these stars as they splashed in puddles, and watched the rain pour down, creating rivers and lakes outdoors. Through this, they also gained more understanding about the weather here in TeMatau-a-Māui (Hawke’s Bay).
Tangaroa (God of the sea) is acknowledged by the star Waitā, and by extension Waitī. We honoured these stars by singing Kina Kina, which is a song about different sea creatures and kai moana (sea food). In this way, our mokopuna learnt about what we can gather from our oceans.
All this learning and celebration came together at our Matariki festivities on the evening of Tuesday 21 June! We strengthened the strong relationships we already have with our mokopuna and their whanau by sharing in great conversations and delicious food. Our team prepared a feast which included pumpkin and vegetable soup, chicken, buns, coleslaw, and sausages wrapped in bread.
We can’t wait to celebrate the next Matariki with our mokopuna and their whanau. In the meantime, we continue to teach and care for our children, welcoming and celebrating everyone who walks through our doors.