Photo of dry, cracked earth in the desert with a sunset over a mountain range in the background.
(Image: Getty)

Learning to live by the Maramataka: Pēpuere

We’re entering the fourth phase of summer, Matiti Kaiwai, known as the middle of summer. This is when the ground is so dry it opens up and thirsts for water.

Just like that, it’s February and 2021 is well underway. Many of us are shaking off the sand and getting back into mahi. It has been a great blessing to explore our beautiful country, free of Covid restrictions.

The month of February is the ninth lunar cycle in the Māori year and brings the summer phase of Matiti Kaiwai. Matiti Kaiwai is the phase that hits the middle of summer and is the driest time.

Matiti Kaiwai is detected through tohu – a clear sign is dry whenua showing cracks in the ground. The saying of elders goes “Te waru i kataina e Rehua”. This refers to the eighth month of the year when the ground laughs as a result of Rehua (Antares summer star). However, it is not the eighth month and tohu have changed throughout the years due to climate change. For our grandparents’ generation, phases appear to have come a month earlier.

The next summer phase following Matiti Kaiwai is Matiti Raurehu. One phase connects to the other, merging and interweaving. The key tohu in Matiti Raurehu is a white dust-like substance resembling frost. This tohu indicates that we are heading into the harvesting period of Whānui (March). We will talk more about Whānui next month.

Key maramataka dates (Auckland)

February 2, 3 and 4 – Korekore tē whiwhia, Korekore tē rawea and Korekore piri ki ngā tangaroa: Low energy days similar to Whiro. Take it easy as this is a time to rest, plan and reflect.

February 5, 6 and 7 – Tangaroa a mua, Tangaroa a roto and Tangaroa kiokio: The fruitful days, perfect for the long Waitangi weekend. A time that is positive and productive, great with whānau and friends and being near the water if you can.

February 11, 12 and 13 – Mutuwhenua, Whiro and Tirea: The Whiro moon is the new moon indicating the beginning of the next lunar cycle, a time to rest. Traditional stories say that Whiro was a mischievous atua who likes to trick people. Whiro’s position at sunrise and sunset indicates rain patterns for the month ahead (Wiremu Tawhai, Living by the moon, 2013).

February 17, 18, 19 and 20 – Tamatea phase. Tamatea a ngana, Tamatea a hotu, Tamatea a io and Tamatea kai ariki: It’s unpredictable, up and down. Kia tupato, be careful and organised at this time.

February 24, 25 and 26 – Surging phase of Mawharu, Atua and Ohua: This is a phase we haven’t added previously, however, I think it is an important one to be mindful of. It is a surging phase and can be unsettling when out and about e.g. on the roads. Accidents can happen if we are not careful.

February 27 and 28 / March 1– Oturu, Rakaunui and Rakau ma tohi: The highest energy days, around the full moon. Make the most of high productive days, to-do lists, training, social outings and mahi!

Tohu in Pēpuere 

Tohu o te whenua (signs on that land)

You may notice another tohu from Matiti Rautapata – tree pods burst and fall (tapata) to the floor.

Tohu o te rangi (signs in the sky)

There are two stars visible, Whanui (Vega) and Poututerangi (Altair). Next is Vega, which indicates the start of the harvest season and is seen from the northeastern sky.

Tohu o te moana (signs in the water)

Kahawai season is coming to an end. Other tohu are blue moki and tuna heke (migrating eels). Blue moki run from February to March and tuna start to migrate to the sea.




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