Papatūānuku is fertile in Mahuru, a great time to get planting. (Photo: Getty)

Learning to live by the maramataka: Mahuru

Mahuru/September marks the beginning of spring as well as the summer phases. It’s time to get planting!

September is known as Mahuru, the start of spring. The name Mahuru is a shortened version of ‘Te ahunga o uruao’ which means the new generation of whitebait. Guess what the tohu is this month? The whitebait which started to run last month. Māori names often capture the activity for each part of the year. Whitebait also indicates the change in season.

If you’re looking for a practical activity that’s good for the whole whānau, the puku and the planet this month, try planting your own māra (vegetable garden). This moon cycle in September is the perfect month to get your planting groove on. The first week of September brings the full moon. This is the best time to plant as water content is high and Papatūānuku is fertile. The second week of September is also great, the tangaroa phase, when the moon is halved and Papatūānuku is at its highest fertility. Keep in mind that everything happening within the taiao happens within us and other living things.

It’s also Mahuru Māori, so kia kaha te reo!

Key dates

Rakaunui phase: 1- 3 September – Highest energy: Time for high physical and social activity, and definitely planting during this phase. This is the highest phase of the month on the full moon.

Kore phase: 6- 8 September – Low energy. Not suitable for high activity. This is a time for resting, reflecting and planning and looking forward to the next key phase, tangaroa.

Tangaroa phase: 9 -11 September – Fruitful energy. A time when Papatūānuku is at its highest fertility. Fishing, planting, social events and sport will thrive at this time. All-round productive energy.

Whiro phase: 15 – 17 September – Lowest energy. Take a break, slow down, watch Netflix and have a KitKat. We can’t be at 100% all the time. Try meditation or intellectual / study activity during this time.

Tamatea phase: 21 -24 September – Unpredictable energy. These days can be zero to 100! So be prepared for unpredictability in weather and also in people. Tamatea is not low or high, it is medium so the ground is fertile if you want to plant here.

Utunga reciprocity days

Oike (5 September) –  Give back to Papatūānuku, mother earth.

Otane (12 September) – Give back to Tāne Mahuta, the forest.

Ouenuku (19 September) – Give back to Ranginui, the skyfather. Ouenuku also means rainbow.

Huna (25 September) –  Give back to Tangaroa, the sea.

Tohu in Mahuru

In Mahuru, tohu o te rangi (signs in the sky) is te kakau, the Regulus star which is due to rise in the eastern sky later in the month. The stars Whakaahu Kerekere and Whakaahu Rangi (Castor and Pollux) remain in the eastern sky.

This moon cycle is also known as Matiti Kura and started when the tohu of the Pīpīwharauroa started singing. This is a time of regrowth, rebirth and renewal and triggers the first phase of summer. In the Māori year there are two seasons, summer and winter and summer has seven phases.

Seven summer phases

Matiti Kura – This is the first phase and is triggered by the signing of the Pīpīwharauroa and the ripening of the small red berries in the bush.

Matiti Hana – This second phase is recognisable when the Puawananga or Puareinga flowers (Clematis) turn the top canopy of the forest a brilliant white.

Matiti Muramura -This third phase is noted for the flowering of the Northern Rātā and the old Pohutukawa. The canopy turns from white (Hana) to red (Muramura).

Matiti Kaiwai – Is known as the middle of summer. This is when the ground is so dry it opens up and thirsts for water.

Matiti Raurehu – This fifth phase is the most difficult to detect. But usually occurs in early February. It may even precede the rise of the harvest star Whanui. You can recognise this phase by watching out for a white dust-like substance on the lawn that resembles a frost.

Matiti Rautapata – This sixth phase is easily identifiable if you are near a bush area. This is when the seed pods burst and the seeds fall (tapata) onto the dry leaf bed below.

Matiti Rauangina – This is the last phase of summer and is very easy to identify by the leaves that swing to and fro as they fall from the trees. This rhythmic dance is call te angina/free fall.

Click to download the high-res version of the maramataka dial. Supplied by Ayla Hoeta and Rereata Makiha.

Tips for using the maramataka dial

If you are new to the maramataka a good way to start, is to remember the moon cycle in four phases – Rakaunui, Tangaroa, Whiro and Tamatea. Put the full moon date (September 2) on Rakaunui.

The Tangaroa phase starts seven days after Rakaunui. Whiro is seven days after the first Tangaroa day and the Tamatea phase is a week from Whiro. Read more here.

Kia pai te marama ki a koutou koutou. Noho ora mai.

Please note: This is intended as a guide to help you learn about key dates in the maramataka and read the tohu (signs). Tohu will change from area to area and therefore while the dates above might be accurate for Auckland Manukau Harbour area, dates may vary slightly for those in other rohe.



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