by Joanne Hutchinson MBA

Just a few weeks ago, here in the southern hemisphere, we passed the winter solstice which marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. It occurs around June 20th or 21st and symbolises the beginning of winter, which is a time of darkness, cold, and stillness. It is a time when the earth seems to be sleeping, and life appears to slow down. However, this is also a time of great potential, as the darkness and stillness provide the perfect environment for introspection, reflection, and renewal.

For thousands of years, people across the world have celebrated the winter solstice, recognizing its significance as a time of transition and renewal. In many cultures, the winter solstice is seen as a time of rebirth and renewal. It is a time to reflect on the past year, release what no longer serves us, and set intentions for the coming year. In the southern hemisphere, it is a time to honour the darkness and embrace the yin energy of the season.

As a yin time of the year, the winter season is a perfect time to dream new dreams and plant new seeds. It is a time to slow down, turn inward, and reflect on what we want to create in our lives. By taking the time to reflect and set intentions during the winter season, we can plant the seeds for growth and transformation in the coming year.

The Rise of Matariki

Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, we celebrate the winter solstice as Matariki.

Matariki, also known as the Māori New Year, is a significant occasion in the Māori calendar. It marks the rising of the Matariki star cluster, also known as the Pleiades, in the eastern sky just before dawn. It is recognised as a time of renewal, reflection and celebration of whānau (family), mātauranga (knowledge), karakia (prayer), and whakapapa (genealogy). Matariki is a chance for us to connect with the land and celebrate the traditions of the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand.

For Māori, the observation of Matariki has been an important tradition for centuries and is now becoming more integrated into our cultural heritage signifying a time for reflection and renewal, to give thanks for the harvest and to honour those who have passed. The arrival of the Matariki star cluster is also a symbol of the start of a new agricultural year and therefore offers us a new beginning and a new cycle of life.

Five Tips to Make the Most of Matariki

Here are five tips to help you make the most of Matariki:

  1. Connect with the land or nature – Take the time to connect with the land. Visit the local marae (meeting house) or take a trip to the beach, mountains or forest. Learn about the cultural significance of these places and the stories and traditions associated with them.
  2. Honour your ancestors – Use Matariki as an opportunity to honour and pay tribute to your ancestors and loved ones who have passed away.
  3. Learn something new – Embrace the spirit of Matariki and take the time to learn something new. Attend a hāngi workshop, learn a Matariki karakia, or get up early and marvel at the stars while observing Matariki rising before daybreak.
  4. Share the experience – Share the experience of Matariki with your friends and family. Host a gathering, prepare a feast, and spend time together.
  5. Set new intentions – Matariki is a time of renewal and new beginnings. Take the opportunity to set your intentions for the coming year.

Use these tips and add to them to help you to embrace the spirit of Matariki.  Deepen your understanding of its importance so you can create a more meaningful and transformative experience that honours our cultural heritage and the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand.

In summary, the winter solstice and Matariki is a time of transition and renewal, a time to connect with nature, reflect on the year that has been, celebrate the present with whānau and honour the cycles of the earth. Use this moment to set new intentions, dream new dreams, and plant the seeds for growth and transformation as we look towards the future.

Finally, I would like to leave you with a traditional Māori saying for Matariki – “Matariki ahunga nui” which means the provider of plentiful food. This saying represents the significance of Matariki as a time for giving thanks for the harvest, coming together to share in the abundance of the land. It is a reminder to celebrate the good things in life and to give thanks for the blessings that come our way.

Ngā mihi o Matariki, te tau hou Māori.


Jo xx


Joanne Hutchinson MBA

Executive Mentorship, Facilitator and Consultant

Great Spirit NZ


m. 027 414 4291


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© Joanne Hutchinson 2023