There’s something quite calm about a winter reset. In summer, when we celebrate New Year’s Eve, life feels busy, hectic, social. It’s all about living in the moment and making the most of every minute. It’s about barbecues and beaches, family and Christmas. It’s a quick moment off work or the midst of school holidays. It sneaks up on you, and then it’s gone. Resolutions are made hastily and spoken aloud with little thought. Focussed on getting something – stronger, fitter, healthier - that next year you will ‘definitely’ look great in your bikini/boardies and that you’ll plan your summer holiday way better.
But the time around Matariki feels quite different.
The leaves have fallen from the trees; it’s cold and dark and most likely rainy. Life is in a routine. Work continues. Kids are settled at school. Summer sports are a distant memory, and winter sports have hit the straps. It’s a time to hunker down.
Which means there’s time to reflect for as long as you want to. There’s no ‘one-day’ deadline but a few weeks for thoughtfulness and restoration.
The most important aspect of celebrating Matariki is to remember and acknowledge our ancestors, our tīpuna. Traditionally Maori would acknowledge and celebrate the lives of those lost since the last appearance of the Matariki formation and release their spirits to the stars. This would often take the form of a special ceremony with specially prepared food (typically a hāngi) to be offered up to the stars.
The second aspect of Matariki is to celebrate the present. Celebrate your loved ones and be thankful for what you have. Be mindful, be present. Doing this over a few days give you time to notice things that otherwise just become routine or are unnoticeable. That shaft of sunlight that cuts through the rain, the person who lets you cut into the traffic and the good morning smile from the stranger you pass on the street.
Finally, turn to the future and plan for the year ahead. Set some intentions, big or small, that you want for the coming months. Think about what you’ve noticed in your reflections of the past and the present, what you want to keep and what you want to let go of.
If reflection is not your style, there are many Matariki community events that you can join. The revival of Matariki, as we get better at embracing our heritage, has meant a growth in the practice of celebration. You can find Kapa Haka festivals, star observations, fireworks, hangi, and concerts around the country. It is an opportunity to connect with our communities, especially those that understand and honour Māori culture and heritage.
Take time for yourself during Matariki and have a pause and reset. It might be cold and dark now, but summer is creeping around the corner.