Sunday, June 16, 2013

Starlight and Hope (Matariki Part 3)

The first time we really celebrated Matariki (Maori New Year) was 2 years ago – the earthquake winter.  Our chimney was a pile of bricks on the lawn, the gap in the roof was covered with a non-weather-proof tarpaulin.  And we’d just had another round of rather nasty shakes on June 13 2011.  The previous mid-winter celebration of a roaring log fire and takeaways was not going to be quite the same.  So I found some inspiration in the idea of Matariki, and cobbled together an evening that thought about hope and light.  And so a family tradition was begun.

This year, we had fun with backyard campfires, weaving flax stars, and making porotiti.

While waiting for the flax to dry, we read this story from ENG 2013.pdf

Matariki, the healer of the Sun
Told by Shane Te Ruki; drawn from a Tainui tradition:

‘Bloodied, battered, and bruised, Tama-nui-i-te-rä (the Sun) trailed slowly
across the sky. He could do little else in his condition. The bitter sting of
shame ached much deeper than that of his wounds. Defeat at the hands of
Mäui was a fall that Tama-nui-i-te-rä could not bear. Each day he sought
longer respite in the west, hiding his shame and nursing his wounds in the
dark realm below the horizon. The nights grew ever longer and the days
ever shorter, and Takurua (Winter) was born to the world.

Winter clears away, ending the weak and testing the strong. Crops are
wrenched up and the land lies fallow. Life hangs in the balance.

Matariki and her daughters looked to the harshening winter with concern for
the children of Ranginui (sky father) and Papatüänuku (earth mother). They
were concerned too for Tama-nui-i-te-rä, their kinsman, for he was one of
them, a heavenly body of Te Ahaaha o Te Rangi (immensity of heaven).

Matariki and her daughters moved from their home in the western sky to the
eastern sky, the rising place of Tama-nui-i-te-rä. Nestled above the horizon,
they called to Tama-nui-i-te-rä, offering healing prayers and songs of
solace. Mother and daughters spilled water down from the heavens to heal
his wounds and renew his strength. Matariki’s daughters glimmered with
starlight to encourage their uncle to rise from the realm below.

Little by little, Tama-nui-i-te-rä regained his strength and his journey across
the sky increased. As he was healed and made strong by his kinswomen, he
in turn brought the world out of winter’s grasp. Warmth, growth, and renewal
were returned to the world. The spilled waters flooded the land, renewing
fertility and setting the scene for spring’s onset.

Every year, this cycle of renewal is played out across the immensity of
heaven and the world.In the heart of each winter season, our ancestors
look to Matariki, observing her movements and divining from them the
season to come.’

Matariki for me is about healing, renewal and hope, something everyone needs in the middle of the coldest, darkest part of the year.  It is an opportunity to give thanks for the year past, and share our hopes for the year ahead.

I am thankful that since our first Matariki two years ago, our chimney has been replaced, our roof repaired, there have not been any big shakes for over a year (although there are still little ones they no longer count), and I have come through and recovered from the emotional trauma (although I still have the occasional down day, like the little shakes they don’t really count).

The highlight of the day (for me) was the special family devotions after dinner and dessert:

With the lights out, we light a candle and read:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5, New International Version)

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  (John 8:12, New International Version)


Then using the big candle to light a small candle each, we read:

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16, New International Version)


We each think and talk about ways we can show Christ’s light, healing and love to those around us.  Then we pray, closing with:

In darkness and in light,
in trouble and in joy,
help us, heavenly Father,
to trust your love,
to serve your purpose,
and to praise your name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Source: New Zealand Anglican Prayer Book, page 190)

Kia Tau
Kia tatou katoa
Te atawhai o to tatou Ariki
O ihu Karaiti
Me te aroha o te Atua
Me te whiwhingatahitanga
O te wairua tapu
Ake ake ake

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
And the love of God
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
Be with us for ever more, amen.

Porotiti (Matariki Part 2)

Updated: see below

While we were processing the flax, I set the children an activity making Porotiti.

Source ENG 2013.pdf

“Hyperactive children were often given porotiti to play with during the time of Matariki, when they were required to be still and listen to their elders. The calming sound of the instrument enabled the children to be more receptive to learning.”


I remember having a plastic one of these at once upon a time, and I remember I could get some good whirling out of it.  The cardboard struggled to get the same amount of rotational momentum, so was more difficult to spin and the wasn’t as effective at making its whistle.  I think some more experimentation is needed. (Geek Girl surfacing).


We go much better performance by gluing two discs of corrugated cardboard together.

Now that’s how it’s supposed to “buzz”.

Flax Stars (Matariki Part 1)

Matariki is the Maori name for the constellation of the Pleiades,  and the celebration at mid-winter lends itself to the theme of stars and starlight.  This year I recruited our family friend Louise, a student of Raranga (flax weaving), to help with this year’s craft activity of making stars from flax. 

We said a Karakia (prayer) to give thanks for the day and for the flax, and carefully harvested from our flax bush in the back yard. 

The flax needed stripping, Wiping clean,And scraping. 

Even the furry family members got involved.

We also wanted to boil the flax, so just for fun took the opportunity to “christen” the thermette we’d bought for camping and haven’t had an opportunity to use yet.

and there was plenty of boiling water for hot drinks too.

We put the pot on the stove to maintain a rolling boil, then put each bunch of flax in for 1 minute

Then dunked it straight into some cold water

Spin cycle

Then hung to air.

When the flax had dried, we used this pattern from the Christchurch City Libraries to craft it into stars.  The younger children found the flax tricky to work, so made theirs using strips of coloured paper.

(Sorry about the photo quality in these last two shots – the flash on my camera wasn’t working so I had to resort to the phone camera.)

Linking up with:


Wednesday, June 12, 2013


For several minutes after passing the start line the only sound was the pattering of thousands of running shoes hitting the road.

I ran well and felt good.

Marathon Map

In fact I even appear to be smiling in my official finish line photo.


Considering that three and a half months ago, I hadn’t run for about 25 years, I was actually quite pleased with my placing in my grade (63 out of 233 VW40+).

So now those of my friends who are enthusiastic about running are asking me what the next goal is.  At this stage my answer is “Next year”.  I was surprisingly comfortable running the 10km distance, so it would be interesting to see what time I could get if I actually pushed myself a bit faster.  And no, I’m not addicted (yet).