Living By The Stars Season 2

  • Māori Now Original
  • 20 Episodes

Did you know, that Māori months are named after stars? Certain stars signalled which month we were in, and moon phases signalled the individual days within the month.

Episodes

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Hōtaka 1 - Whakamoe Tau

Māori would meet at different times throughout the year to discuss the lessons of the recently past seasons and to determine the bounty of the impending seasons. These gatherings and their associated knowledge were known as whakamoe tau, meaning to know the seasons or more correctly to decide upon the seasons.

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Hōtaka 2 - Tamanuiterā

We discover the sun’s connection to how our ancestors divided the year into seasons, and how his movements throughout the year signalled the winter and summer solstices.

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Hōtaka 3 - Te Maramataka

Māori followed a lunar calendar known as the maramataka. The maramataka tracks the changing phases of the moon across the month, with each lunar phase having its own name, its own purpose and set of related activities.

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Hōtaka 4 - Ngā Whetū o te tau

Our ancestors used the position of stars to mark the various seasons. These same ancestors understood that the stars rose slightly earlier every day. So, as the different days and months passed, different stars would rise and set in the night sky. Therefore, the stars we see in the evening sky in the summer, are different to the stars we see in the evening sky in the winter.

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Hōtaka 5 - Te Maramataka ā-whetū

Most Māori did not follow a pure lunar system of time. Nor did Māori follow a stella system of time. Rather Māori implemented a lunar stella time keeping system that considered both the position of stars and the changing phases of the moon.

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Hōtaka 6 - Te Taiao

For Māori changes in the environment played an important role in determining time. While the lunar phases, position of stars and the movement of the sun signalled the seasons, it was the environment that ultimately determined the correct activity for that period of time.

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Hōtaka 7 - Te Tahi o Pipiri

The 1st lunar stella month marked by the stars, Pipiri. This is a time when people gather around fires and huddle together for warmth, hence the name Pipiri. Apart from harvesting kererū and catching piharau, Pipiri is a time of little activity. The gardens are no longer is use, and there are no fruits in the trees. Pipiri is also the month when Matariki is seen rising in the morning marking the Māori new year. These two groups of stars are viewed in combination with the lunar calendar resetting the year as part of the whakamoe tau process.

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Hōtaka 8 - Te Rua o Takurua

The 2nd lunar stella month marked by the star, Takurua. This time of the year is associated with cold weather and its afflictions including snow, frost, bitter winds, sleet and hail. These forms of weather are known as ‘Te Anu o Takurua’. This was a time when people were eating the food they had harvested and stored during the warmer months.

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Hōtaka 9 - Te Toru Here o Pipiri

The 3rd lunar stella month marked by the star, Here o Pipiri. While this period is still cold, there are signs that the worst of the winter has past and spring is on the way. Hence the name Aroaro Māhanahana meaning heading towards the warmer season. It is now that the Perehia (New Zealand wind grass) and the Haekaro first bloom. The Ngutu Parore travel to the shingle river beds of Canterbury and Otago to breed.

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Hōtaka 10 - Te Whā o Mahuru

The 4th lunar stella month marked by the star, Mahuru. Mahuru marked the return of the Pīpīwharauroa and the Koekoeā from warmer parts of the Pacific to Aotearoa. The cry of the pipiwharauroa and Koekoeā is also said to be a call to the people to tend to the gardens in preparation for planting. A number of plants bloom during Mahuru including the pere, the pīnaki, the namunamu and the kānuka.

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Hōtaka 11 - Te Rima o Kōpū

The 5th lunar stella month marked by the star, Kōpū. This period occurs about October and November. By this time the earth has become warm and the early shoots are staring to appear in the gardens. An important plant and food source at this time was the tī kouka. During this time the tree was cut and the stems left on the ground to dry. The rhizomes were dug from the soil resembling large carrots. A number of native birds begin breeding during this month, including the tūī, the kākā, the kārearea and the ruru. All of these birds are represented by different stars that rise in the morning sky, and are additional markers of the seasons.

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Hōtaka 12 - Te Ono o Whitiānaunau

The 6th lunar stella month marked by the star, Whitiānaunau. It is during this month that the rātā, the rewarewa, the mānihi, the mārūrū, the tūrutu, the rēua, the rērēwai and the perei flower. It is during this time that the tūī is seen aggressively defending fruiting and flowering trees from other birds. They fly upwards above the canopy, and then make a noisy near vertical dive back to the canopy. This is also the season when the tūī along with other birds such as the tīeke and the kōkako breed and lay their eggs

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Hōtaka 13 - Te Whitu o Hakihea

The 7th lunar stella month marked by the star, Hakihea. Hakihea is the season when different eels begin to run to the ocean to spawn. While Pākehā science states there are 2 kinds of eel, the long fin and the short fin, for Māori there are actually many kinds of eels and they are often given names depending on when they head to the ocean. During this period of the year, near the full moon and after a period of rain the eels that are known to Māori as tuna ngahuru, tutuna, tunariki, tunahau, kōpakopako and matamoe head to the ocean to given birth to their young. During Hakihea the fruit of the tawa tree is ripe, the pulp of these fruits is known as pokere and was traditionally made into a kind of porridge. Likewise the fruits of the karaka tree ripen during Hakihea.

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Hōtaka 14 - Te Waru o Rehua

The 8th lunar stella month marked by the star, Rehua. A number of different creatures are very active during this month including the māwhitiwhiti, kihikihi, kēkerewai and the pihareinga. These insects are known as ngā manu a Rehua. Also the moki, maomao, kaiherehere and inanga all spawn during this season and are known as ngā pōtiki a Rehua.

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Hōtaka 15 - Te Iwa o Rūhīterangi

The 9th lunar stella month marked by the star, Rūhīterangi. One fruit that was a prized delicacy for Māori was the fruit of the kiekie. The edible flower of this tree is known as a tāwhara, and the fruit was called ureure, pātangatanga, tēure, tīrori and pīrori. The fruit of this plant was fully ripe during this period and was considered the finest native fruit of Aotearoa. It’s flavour is said to be very sweet and similar to a rich and juicy pear. One important activity that was undertaken during this time was the removal of the moka, torongū and anuhe from the kūmara plantations. The caterpillars would attack the leaves of the kūmara, and if they were not removed would cause significant damage.

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Hōtaka 16 - Te Ngahuru o Poutūterangi

The 10th lunar stella month marked by the star, Poutūterangi. During this time of the year 3 stars that are closely connected to the kūmara rise in the early morning towards the north. There stars are Whānui, Panitinaku and Poutūterangi. Whānui is said to be the father of the kūmara and brings the bounty of this crop to mankind each and every year. The word tinaku means to germinate, and Panitinaku is a female deity that helps the kūmara to grow from a seedling to a mature vegetable. Poutūterangi is the star that marks the month that the kūmara is ready to be harvested. Collectively these stars make the constellation called Te kūmara o Mataora. When this is seen in the morning sky, it is time to harvest. Poutūterangi is therefore seen as one of the stars that provides food for year, hence the saying.

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Hōtaka 17 - Te Ngahuru mā tahi o Paengawhāwhā

The 11th lunar stella month marked by the star, Paengawhāwhā. One saying for this month is ‘kua putu ngā tupu o ngā kai i ngā paenga o ngā māra, meaning that the left over stems and tops of the kūmara crops have been piled around the edges of the gardens. This is a sign that the harvest is now completed and preparations for winter are well underway. During Paengawhāwhā the last of the kuaka, the pipiwharauroa and the young koekoeā make their migration north avoiding the winter. This is also the season when the namunamu bloom with its pink and purple flowers. One important food source for Māori during this period was the weka. This flightless brown, black and grey mottled coloured bird is in best condition during the autumn. It was usually taken in very large numbers using a noose and lure. The birds were cooked and then preserved in their own fat and stored to be eaten later in the year.

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Hōtaka 18 - Te Ngahuru mā rua o Haki Haratua

The 12th lunar stella month marked by the star, Haki Haratua. Haratua is the beginning of winter. The seasonal birds have returned to their northern homes, the gardens are now dormant and there is little activity undertaken by people at this time. A particular saying attached to the month of Haratua is ‘kua uru ngā kai ki te rua, kua mutu ngā mahi a te tangata. The first part of this saying reflects that fact that the storage pits and houses are now full with the fruits of the harvest and people are now eating their preserves. The second part of this saying acknowledges the sedentary nature of this time of year. According to Māori tradition, the sun is a male and has two wives, the summer maiden and the winter maiden. During this period the sun has left his summer wife, Hineraumati and has moved far away to the ocean to be with his winter partner Hinetakurua. Hineraumati retreats deep into the earth with her children and the afflictions of winter now take over the earth.

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Hōtaka 19 - Te Ngahuru mā toru o Ruhanui

The 13th lunar stella month marked by the star, Ruhanui. This 13th month is inserted every three years to resync the lunar stella calendar, like the leap year of today. The 13th month system was closely connected to the rising of Matariki and the Māori new year. Māori would wait for Matariki to appear in the lunar phase of Tangaroa in the month of Pipiri. However when Matariki was no longer visible during this time because of the difference in days between a lunar and solar calendar system, an additional month was added. This month was also known as the second coming of the month Pipiri hence the name Te Rua o Pipiri.

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Hōtaka 20 - Te Ao Hou

When we follow our universal modern system of time we dictate to the environment when we are ready to celebrate, work, relax, plant, harvest and interact with the world. When we followed a traditional Māori system of time, the environment dictates to us when it is ready, and we as people follow the natural rhythms of the environment in a more balanced and symbiotic manner that fosters culture, spirituality and a relationship with our natural world.