We recently had our annual Night Farm School. This event is a highlight on our Gems calendar for our four year olds, and is eagerly anticipated. This year we incorporated our Matariki celebrations into the evening.
Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter and for many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year. Matariki literally means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki). According to myth, when Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, were separated by their children, the god of the winds, Tāwhirimātea, became so angry that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens.
Traditionally, it was a time for remembering the dead, and celebrating new life. In the 21st century, observing Matariki has become popular again. Unfortunately we are too far south to observe this cluster of stars, however that did not dampen our spirits in our marking of this traditional Maori custom.
Inga and Morgan led our whanau in karakia, to commence proceedings. Earlier in the day the children had helped prepare kumara and pumpkin for the delicious soup that we shared on arrival. In the lead up the children had been discussing with their teachers what they may discover on their night farm school adventure, this included the following - stars, shooting stars, the moon, the farm dogs, cows, horses, and possums through to dead rein deer, dead bats, and unicorns.