One New Zealand Warriors players had an education session this week with Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke about the meaning and importance of Matariki and Maramataka Māori.
Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke (Waikato, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Te Atiawa, Ngāi Tahu) is an author and Māori rights advocate who was recently named as Te Pāti Māori’s candidate running for the Hauraki-Waikato electorate in the upcoming election.
Recognised by Māori and other indigenous peoples through history, Matariki was first celebrated as an official public holiday in New Zealand on June 24 last year.
In the first season the team has been back in New Zealand since being based in Australia, One New Zealand Warriors cultural ambassador Wairangi Koopu wanted to build up the players’ understanding of Matariki and its relationship with Aotearoa and its people.
Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars that rises in winter and, for many Māori, heralds the start of a new year. Early morning, just before dawn, is the optimum time to view the Matariki cluster.
“Matariki is an important star cluster for many different countries and indigenous people around the world,” said Maipi-Clarke.
“We talked about Matariki but we also talked about Maramataka Māori, which is the Māori Luna cycle calendar that follows the natural rhythm and patterns of the environment. We spoke about how we can adopt that into our everyday lives, like studying and sports.
"Being representatives of Aotearoa New Zealand, with the mana that they have on the national and international stage, it’s important for the Warriors’ players and staff to understand their home, including the different celebrations that are significant to the indigenous peoples.
“The experience was absolutely awesome; I was buzzing out. I'm pretty sure this was my Dad's proudest moment. The players and the whole organisation were really welcoming and open-minded to the whole conversation and knowledge that had been shared, which I was really grateful for.”
As a way of marking Matariki, the One New Zealand Warriors will wear their 2023 Indigenous strip in Sunday’s 10th-round NRL encounter with the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart (4.00pm kick-off).