The Dirigible Balloon
Poetry for Children

A New Year is Here! / Mānawatia a Matariki!

Listen to Kathryn ...
Hine, e oho!
Maranga mai!
Matariki rises
low in the sky
Night is ending
Dawn draws near
bringing the light
of a brand new year

Tama, e oho!
Maranga mai!
Time to get dressed
It’s cold outside
See seven stars shining
Sign of the new year
Greet Matariki

Matariki is the Māori name for the star cluster known as the Pleiades. It disappears from the skies of Aotearoa New Zealand in the Southern Hemisphere autumn (April/May) and its return in winter (June/July) marks the beginning of the Māori New Year for many iwi (tribes). Depending on an iwi’s traditions, Matariki may have either seven or nine stars. In 2022 Matariki became New Zealand’s newest public holiday. Many people get up before dawn to see the Matariki cluster and it is a time to have meals with whānau (family), to remember those who have died in the past year and to make wishes for the year ahead.

This poem uses words from the Māori language which is one of the official languages of New Zealand. Hine and tama are terms of address for a girl and a boy respectively. “E oho! Maranga mai!” encourages a sleeper to wake up and get out of bed. Mānawatia is a word used specifically for Matariki and means to celebrate, to welcome.

About the Writer

Kathryn Dove

Kathryn writes fiction and poetry for children. She enjoys the alchemy of poetry and seeing how a dash of imagination can transform ordinary life into something surprising and wonderful. She has lived in London and spent a summer working in a small village on the west coast of Scotland. Kathryn now lives with her family in Auckland, New Zealand.