ANZASW Celebrates Matariki

ANZASW would like to offer our acknowledgment and celebration of Matariki this year. Matariki is a group of stars internationally recognised as the Pleiades cluster. The rise of Matariki in the winter skies above Aotearoa represents an important time, signifying the start of the Māori New Year.

New Year celebrations provide the opportunity for communities to come together to acknowledge the year gone by and make plans for the year ahead. It is also a time to celebrate new life, to remember those who have passed and to come together with communities to enjoy kai, kōrero, rituals and entertainment.

Below is an address from ANZASW’s President Sharyn Roberts, a piece written by Rose Ngareta Herewini on what Matariki means to her this year and a wee song about Matariki sung by Lucy’s great-niece Tasmin Henricksen.

ANZASW encourages our members to take time this Matariki to reflect on the year gone by and take these learnings as we move forward into the future both personally and professionally.

As part of our koha to you during Matariki,  we are delighted to now make available to all ANZASW members, links to the videos taken of the presenters during the Mō tātou ā mō kā uri ā muri ake nei – For us and our children


Matariki translated mean “Eyes of God” (mata-ariki) or ‘Little Eyes’ (mata-riki). It is also known as the cluster of stars, Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, which rises in the last days of May or early June and signifies the Maori New Year.


Traditionally, Māori would gather to connect and partake in acts of Aroha (love). Particularly, in the sharing and giving of natural resources such as kai. More importantly though, it is also about honouring and commemorating loved ones who have passed over. Dr Rangi Mataamua tells of the (Te Ao Māori) pūrākau of Te Waka o Rangi.

Te Waka O Rangi – is a canoe with Matariki at the front and Tautoru (Orion’s belt) at the back, captained by a star called Taramainuku. Te Kupenga a Taramainuku is the net of Taramainuku and every night the constellation is in the sky, Taramainuku casts his net down to earth to gather the souls of the people who died that day. He carries them along behind his waka for 11 months and then takes them to the underworld when the constellation sets next to the sun in May. The constellation rises again in a month and Taramainuku releases the souls of the dead into the sky to become stars. This is the origin of the saying ‘kua wheturangihia koe’/’you have now become a star’.


What do you think the key themes or messages of Matariki this year should be?

  • The key themes that I think should be considered this year should be:
  1. Promoting ‘whanaungatanga’ – honouring and remembering those who passed in Aotearoa/NZ to covid-19, including those of significance i.e. rangatira (important leaders), and/or whānau.
  2. Promoting ‘kaitiakitanga’- eliminating ‘aukati iwi’ (racism) and violence e.g. ‘SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscape) and ‘Black Lives Matter’. Including the promotion and protection of tamariki mokopuna, which is paramount.
  • Celebrating the positives that have come about as a result of lockdown e.g. the creation of ANZASW Covid-19 support groups.

What are some of the learnings and messages of Matariki that we can apply to the social work world?

Based on my mohiotanga (knowing) and matauranga (knowledge) of Matariki, and, reflecting upon my practice over the past year, I’m reminded of how I have incorporated Pohatu’s 2004 ngā takepu principles to my practice. Particularly, during the Covid-19 restrictions. For instance;


  • Ahurutanga – being mindful of how to create safe space when gathering and connecting in the social work world. For example, using Zui (Zoom hui) as the ‘new norm’ to develop and foster effective social work practice.
  • Kaitiakitanga – taking responsibility and accountability to uphold communication and solidarity to ensure that relationships are supported and nurtured in the social work field. For example, facilitating the Te Ao Māori support group to sustain the Māori work space.
  • Taukumekume – being mindful and conscious of the positive and negative factors that influence or control our lives in the social work world. For example, avoiding physical contact when greeting and establishing restrictions within the workplace. Not to mention within our personal lives, i.e. tangihanga (funerals) etc.
  • Te Whakakoharangatiratanga – honouring respectful relationships within the social work world. For example, ANZASW and TWSWA members.
  • Mauri Ora – promoting the pursuit of well-being. For example, utilising internal and external networks to optimise and sustain effective relationships within social work practice.
  • Tino Rangatiratanga – having absolute integrity to SWRB Code of Conduct and ANZASW Code of Ethics

A BIG thank you to Tasmin (Lucy’s great- nieve) for allowing us to share with our members her song of Matariki