As artists, we are always looking for places to draw inspiration. So with Matariki on the horizon, we are excited to share our latest collection inspired by this special time in the Māori lunar calendar.
Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as Pleiades. For many Māori, the mid-winter rising of the Matariki stars in the night sky signals the beginning of the New Year - a time of celebration, observance and renewal. This usually takes place in the period June-July. As well as a celebratory time, Matariki is also a time to give thanks for the previous year and to remember those who have died.
Inspired by the stars of Matariki
In Māori tradition, there are nine stars in the Matariki cluster, and legend tells one star is the mother, and the other eight, her children. The name Matariki refers to both the star cluster as a whole and the mother of the stars. The children are named Pōhutukawa, Tupuānuku, Tupuārangi, Waitī, Waitā, Waipunarangi, Ururangi and Hiwaiterangi. Each of the nine stars has a distinct story and defined purpose connected to the Māori world.
When the moon is in the correct phase in Pipiri (the first lunar month of the Māori year), the Matariki stars are looked to for guidance for the year ahead. If one star is brighter than the others, food from that source will be plentiful, or the weather will be good. If a star is dim or missing, the outcomes represented by that star will be poor. Māori respect nature and feel a deep connection to the land, sea and forests. They believe the rhythms of Papatūānuku (Mother Earth) can be understood by reading the Matariki stars and phases of the moon.
The nine stars in the Matariki cluster are significant for Māori, as each star has a defined purpose and unique role connected to the Māori world.
DESIGNED BY TAMAORA WALKER AND AKAPITA SCALLY
When designing this limited-edition collection, Tamaora and Akapita drew inspiration from the individual stars in the Matariki cluster and created nine one-of-a-kind carvings.
Drawing on the concept of kaitiaki
Our 2022 Matariki Collection draws on the concept of kaitiaki. Known as a guardian, Kaitiaki are responsible for protecting something very special - whether this is knowledge, skills, people or places. However, the meaning of kaitiaki also goes much deeper and can be considered the essence or intrinsic nature of someone, or something.
Kaitiaki in the context of this collection is the essence of each star in the Matariki cluster, and Tamaora and Akapita draw inspiration from the elements each star is believed to look after.
They also incorporate the form of the manaia into their designs as an embodiment of each star and what it represents. Manaia are mythological creatures, greatly respected in Māori culture and considered spiritual kaitiaki.
EXHIBIT 7TH JUNE - 3rd July 22
Our Matariki Collection will be on exhibit in our Rotorua studio from 7th June to 3rd July 2022. Carvings can be reserved (pre-purchased) online or in-store and will be shipped once the exhibition has closed.
MOUNTAIN JADE | MATARIKI COLLECTION 2022
Inspired by the star Matariki
The star Matariki is the whaea (mother) of the other eight stars in the cluster. This star is connected to well-being, good fortune, and health, and when it is seen high and bright in the night sky it denotes peace and good luck. The tiki form is seen as being above all other forms, and Tamaora uses this concept to symbolise Matariki being the mother. Eight stars and koru are carved into this design to represent Matariki holding her children.
Matariki is placed in the centre of the cluster, guiding her children across the sky night after night.
Inspired by the star Pōhutukawa
Pōhutukawa is one of the stars in the Matariki cluster and is the star that connects Matariki to the dead. It carries those who've passed away since the last heliacal rising of Matariki in Pipiri. Māori belief determines that the spirits of the dead leave the body and undertake a journey along Te Ara Wairua - The Pathway of Spirits. Near the ocean, the journey ends where an ancient Pōhutukawa tree stands - the dead descend the tree root into the underworld. Tamaora has used the ruru form as inspiration for this design as the ruru is a significant bird in māori culture, seen as a kaitiaki and protector of the past.
It is through Pōhutukawa that we remember those who have died in the past year.
Ngā mata o te ariki | the eyes of the god
Legend tells, when Tāwhirimātea (god of the winds and weather) discovered that Ranginui (sky father) and Papatūānuku (earth mother) had split from their deep embrace, he ripped out his eyes, smashed them into pieces and stuck them onto the chest of the sky. To this day, they twinkle as Matariki.
Inspired by the star Tupuānuku
Tupuānuku is the star connected to food that is harvested from the ground. “Tupu” means “to grow” and “nuku” is a shortened version of Papatūānuku (Mother Earth). Akapita drew inspiration for this design from the unfurling frond of New Zealand's pikopiko fern. He carved nine fronds to symbolise the nine stars of Matariki..
Tupuānuku means to grow in the earth.
Inspired by the star Tupuārangi
Tupuārangi is the star connected to the harvesting of food that comes from the sky and above your head - such as birds and fruit. During the rising of Matariki, birds such as kererū (New Zealand pigeon) were harvested, cooked and preserved in their own fat.
Akapita used the general form of a bird as inspiration for this design.
TAKE A CLOSER LOOK
If you look closely at each of the designs in our Matariki Collection, you will see a small star etched into the stone. It's the artist's way of forever connecting these pieces.
Inspired by the star Waitī
Waitī is the star connected to freshwater and the food that comes from within our rivers, streams, and lakes. Tamaora has incorporated the tuna (eel) into the centre of this design.
For Māori, tuna (eels) are culturally significant and an important source of food.
Inspired by the star Waitā
“Wai” is the Māori word for water, and in this circumstance “tā” means salt. The star is connected to the many kinds of food that are gathered from the sea and saltwater. Akapita has incorporated the whale tail into this design to represent the ocean.
It is said that when Matariki sits just above the water horizon, it will significantly impact the ocean tides and floodwaters.
The dates of Matariki change each year as Māori follow the maramataka (Māori lunar calendar), and celebrations are dependent on the appearance of Pleiades in the sky. By following the maramataka, Māori allow the environment to dictate when it's ready for change – rather than imposing predetermined dates such as in the western solar calendar.
Inspired by the star Waipunarangi
Waipunarangi translates to “water that pools in the sky” and the star connects the cluster of Matariki to the rain. Waipunarangi would determine the nature of the rain for the upcoming year. Akapita took inspiration from the tear-drop shape of the roimata design and built on its symbolism of emotions by engraving a manaia form into the back of this piece, which is only revealed when held to the light.
This design provokes the importance of bringing emotions to the light.
Inspired by the star Ururangi
Ururangi means “winds of the sky” and therefore Ururangi is the star of the Matariki cluster which is connected to the winds. Tamaora has etched four koru into this design to represent the four winds of the world - north, south, east and west.
Ururangi determines the nature of the winds for the upcoming year.
This year, Matariki will be celebrated on the 24th June. For the first time, it will be acknowledged as an official public holiday, bringing more awareness to what Matariki is and the importance of this time in the Māori calendar.
Inspired by the star Hiwaiterangi
Hiwaiterangi is the youngest of the stars in the Matariki cluster and is connected to the promise of a fortunate season. It is the star to send your wishes, dreams, and desires for the upcoming year - similar to the notion of wishing upon a star.
Hiwaiterangi is believed to be a sacred star as it is connected to the heart’s deepest desires.