Page 3 – Matariki and social studies

Matariki, the Maori New Year, is an important festival that reflects our bi-cultural heritage. This page outlines how a study of Matariki can be used by teachers and students of social studies.

Further information

A fuller account of Matariki is on Te Ara - the encyclopedia of New Zealand. The Maori Language Commission (pdf) has excellent material for studying the significance of Matariki to New Zealand society. See also the Matariki Collection on NZ On Screen.

Social studies

Matariki provides an ideal opportunity to explore the ways that people pass on and sustain aspects of their culture and heritage. An emphasis on customs and traditions and how they are retained and developed makes Matariki an excellent case study. Matariki could become a school-wide focus for its duration.

Matariki can be a springboard into further topics associated with the customs and practices of New Zealand’s first settlers. How do the customs and practices of tangata whenua compare with the experiences of other people who have settled in New Zealand?

Matariki can also be explored from the perspective of  the consequences of the migration of people and ideas. How has New Zealand's social and cultural calendar changed as a result of Maori settlement?

Matariki is a good time to consider how different cultures measure time. How and why we mark days, months and years is something we often take for granted. But they are all important aspects of cultural identity and history.


How to cite this page

'Matariki and social studies ', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 30-May-2016