Matariki holds great importance to Māori and the people of Aotearoa, but this star cluster is also seen and celebrated across the world.
From times of old it has been used to guide people from many different lands and it goes by many different names.
This authorative yet playful collection of stories, written by Māori astronomer Rangi Matamua (Tūhoe) and co-authored by journalist Miriama Kamo (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga), is a must for all homes.
It explores the origins of the Matariki cluster through nine whetū (stars) and includes stories about this same star cluster from the Pacific Islands to Australia, Asia, the Americas, Europe and Asia.
The book begins here in Aotearoa, running through one creation story of Papatūānuku and Ranginui and into Tāwhirimātea hurling his eyes into the sky to create what we call Matariki. The authors go on to teach readers about the children of Papa and Rangi, the maramataka (lunar calendar) and other important aspects of te ao Māori. Each star is also introduced to readers in descriptive stories that speak of their meaning and importance.
The book then takes readers on a trip around the world to see how some other cultures acknowledge Matariki. From Scandinavia's Freyja's Hens to Japan's Subaru, this was a fascinating section for us. While we had some knowledge about other cultures and Matariki, most of it was brand new information. It fascinated my younger readers too, with many questions and observations about similarities and differences between cultures.
Matamua and Kamo have done a great job writing these stories - the prose is written in such a way you can't help but feel your best friend is telling you a story around the campfire.
The book is a visual delight thanks to illustrator Isobel Joy Te Aho-White (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa, Kāi Tahu). Her illustrations are magical, skillfully weaving te ao Māori into her artwork. There's a fantastic double page spread of each star in the cluster set out in relation to each other that would make for an incredible poster. In fact, any page from the book would be a wonderful resource for classrooms.
This is a fantastic resource, complete with glossary and index, that should be front and centre on any bookshelf.
This book embodies the very meaning of Matariki
- it allows us to remember the past, celebrate the present and plan for the future.
Matariki Around the World is a treasure of a book that fosters connection and celebrates who we are.
Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell
Scholastic, RRP $34.99