(Image: Te Parapara gardens)

Learning to live by the maramataka: Paengawhāwhā

Paengawhāwhā (April) also known as Kaipō or Whetūkaupō (Deneb star) is the eleventh month of the Māori year and is a productive time. Get planting!

Kia ora e te whānau, ngā mihi mahana o te marama a Paengawhāwhā.

March and August are often our most challenging lunar cycles from my observation, and March 2020 may have been the most challenging for our generation after the global spread of Covid-19.

While people stay home, the planet tries to recover and heal itself from human activity that causes pollution and climate change. For many generations, our tūpuna made precise calculations based on consistent tohu (signs) in the environment. However, due to the effects of climate change, some tohu have shifted and more observation has been required to align the maramataka and tohu.

I fear for the lives of my kuia and elders and continue to commit to ‘staying home’. At this time matauranga Māori and indigenous knowledge is powerful in how we frame the pandemic, our response to it and the future beyond this. Our country is in lockdown – in other words, under whakakōpani. A whakakōpani is similar to a rāhui, to temporarily cause a place to shut down to protect our environment and wellbeing. The maramataka provides guidance to protect and nurture our environment and wellbeing. So how can we do this right now while ‘staying home’? A good place to start is to build a māra/garden. Keep those seedlings alive using the maramataka. Something we need in this time of uncertainty.

Key planting days

There are around 14 good days to plant out of 30 during this lunar phase.

1–8 April – Ariroa, Hotu, Mawharu, Atua, Ohua, Oturu, Rakaunui and Rakau ma tohi: Plant anything on these days.

14, 15 and 16 April – Tangaroa a mua, Tangaroa a roto and Tangaroa kiokio: More good planting days.

26, 27 and 28 April – Tamatea a ngana, Tamatea a hotu, Tamatea a io and Tamatea kai ariki: These days are fine but not great.

What to plant: Beetroot, blueberry, bok choi, broccoli, celery, coriander, feijoa, kale, lime, lettuce, silverbeet, spinach, mesclun salad, mandarin.

Energy phases

6, 7, and 8 April – Oturu, Rakaunui and Rakau ma tohi: The highest energy days and full moon. Stay home. It might be harder to burn energy inside four walls while it’s raining outside but if we are creative there are things we can find for the kids. My boys have been doing ‘PE with Joe’ fitness online and if they don’t listen or do their chores it’s five push-ups. Don’t forget this is also a time to plant. 

11, 12 and 13 April – Korekore tē whiwhia, Korekore tē rawea and Korekore piri ki ngā tangaroa: Stay home again and wash your hands. Perfect time for lockdown, rest and reflect. 

14, 15 and 16 April – Tangaroa a mua, Tangaroa a roto and Tangaroa kiokio: These are fruitful days, stay home!

21 April – Whiro: Please take caution, stay home and ring your loved ones. This is a time to be cautious. The Whiro moon (new moon) indicates the beginning of the next lunar cycle. 

26, 27 and 28 April – Tamatea a ngana, Tamatea a hotu, Tamatea a io and Tamatea kai ariki: This is a very unpredictable time. Look out for each other.

The above dates are specific to Auckland/Manukau Harbour and may differ from area to area. However you can use these dates as a guide for other areas as they only vary by around one to three days.  

Tohu in Paengawhāwhā

Tohu o te rangi (signs in the sky)

Paengawhāwhā in English is the Pegasus constellation which is the tohu this month. Paengawhāwhā appears with the other star Kaipō o Whetūkaupō, the Deneb star. Whetūkaupō is one of the brightest stars in the Milky Way. 

Tohu o te whenua (signs on land)

We finally reached the last summer phase ‘Matiti Rauangina’ a time of harvest. Temperatures cool and leaves swing and fall to the ground. As leaves fall from the tree it’s called “te angina” (free fall) which is why the name of this phase is ‘Matiti Rauangina’.

Please be kind, be patient and take care of each other. He waka eke noa (we are all in this together). 

Ngā mihi for the mātauranga provided by Matua Percy Tipene and Matua Rereata Makiha.



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