During Matiti Rautapata (the sixth phase of summer) seed pods burst and the seeds fall (tapata) onto the dry leaf bed below. Image: Phil Bendle

Learning to live by the Maramataka: Huitanguru

It’s Huitanguru, the ninth month of the Māori year – also known as Pēpuere – when we move from the fifth summer phase to the sixth and seeds pods burst and release their seeds onto the ground.

Learn more about the maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar, here.

Tēnei te reo o mihi e rere atu nei ki a koutou katoa i tēnei rangi raumati. It’s Pēpuere already! And reflecting on the last moon cycle it’s safe to say we definitely experienced a dryer, hotter period and tohu of Matiti Muramura (third summer phase) and Matiti Kaiwai (fourth summer phase). We enjoyed the warmer nights, camping and the chance to spend time under the moon stargazing, like our tūpuna would.

Last month we also saw an incredible eclipse moon which we may not see again for another two years. The eclipse moon brings a massive dose of high energy and is a special time for purification – to reset and purify body and spirit (tinana and wairua) through what we call a ‘pure’ (pu-re). A pure is a process lead by rangatira or experts, and entails karakia and karanga, and entering the sea as the tide turns under the full eclipse moon. There are specific roles of male and female before entering the water, protecting all involved and especially tamarki (children). The purification helps to release tensions, old worries and negative thoughts and reset with a clear and ready mind to dream big and start afresh. The pure was a first experience for me and amazing to see and be a part of!

Tohu in Pēpuere / Huitanguru

Tohu o te whenua (signs on land)

Our kaumatua teach us about seven phases of summer. The phase we are moving into now is Matiti Rautapata (sixth phase) following Matiti Raurehu (fifth phase). However judging by last month I think we may still be moving through Matiti Raurehu. This is the most difficult phase to detect. You can recognise this phase by a white dust-like substance on the lawn that resembles a frost (Rereata Makiha, January, 2019). Matiti Rautapata on the other hand is quite easy to detect. In the bush you see seed pods burst and fall (tapata) to the dry leaf bed below. These are the type of tohu our tūpuna used to predict the coming seasons, patterns and behaviour of plants and animals. They were well in tune!

Seven summer phases

Matiti Kura – First phase triggered by the ripening of small red berries in the bush. The timeframe is toward the end of October.

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 a white dust-like substance on the lawn that resembles 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 easy to identify. Leaves swing to and fro as they fall from the trees. This rhythmic dance is call ‘te angina’– free fall.

Tohu o te rangi (signs in the sky)

The star Vega is a sign for the start of the harvest season. It can be seen in the north eastern sky. The other star marker was Poutūterangi (Altair) which can be seen most of the year. As Rehua’s influence fades and other stars become more prominent we will soon see popular tohu like Matariki, Puanga and Rehua setting in the west as they reappear closer to the Māori New Year in June.  See below the stars Poutūterangi (Altair), Whānui (Vega) and Whetūkaupo (Deneb).

Tohu o te moana (signs in the water)

We come to the end of the kahawai season and welcome the blue moki. The blue moki run between February and March. Another tohu are tuna heke (ōrea) (eel) and they start to migrate to the sea.

Key maramataka dates (West Coast, Manukau Harbour)

3 February – Whiro: I’ve added extra details for Whiro as promised in last month’s column. Whiro is the new moon and the beginning on the next lunar cycle, a time to reflect, relax and/or create your next nanakia (cunning) plan. It is the lowest energy day of the month, so take it easy. Kaumatua tūpuna would describe Whiro as a mischievous atua (god) who would play tricks. Kaumatua would also admire and watch Whiro’s position at sunrise and sunset to observe its different positions and from this with careful calculations indicate rain patterns for the month ahead (Wiremu Tawhai, Living by the Moon, 2013). Amazing ha!

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8, 9, 10 and 11 February – Tamatea-a-ngana, Tamatea-a-hotu, Tamatea-a-io and Tamatea kai ariki: The winds are unpredictable especially near water. The energy level is moderate and it’s good planting time.

18, 19 and 20 February – Oturu, Rakaunui and Rakau-ma-tohi: The full moon and the highest energy days of the month. Make the most of these amazing productive days and get all your work done!

23, 24 and 25 February – Korekore tē whiwhia, Korekore tē rawea and Korekore piri ki ngā tangaroa: Low energy days like Whiro. Try relaxing activities like mindfulness, yoga and reading.

26, 27 and 28 February – Tangaroa-a-mua, Tangaroa-a-roto and Tangaroa kiokio: These are fruitful days, ideal for fishing and planting.


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