Celebrating Matariki

Celebrating Matariki

Matariki will be celebrated tomorrow, our very own Maori New Year, and is associated with remembering those who have passed away, celebrating the present and looking to the future. Matariki happens at the end of harvesting, with an abundance of food for feasting, to recognise the changing season and new beginnings. It is a celebration of that harvest, of giving food, and planning or preparing the ground for the new season’s crops...

Star Cluster

When the Matariki star cluster (also known as the Seven Sisters, or scientifically as Pleiades) appears, it is a sign to start planning for spring while your garden hibernates in winter. In autumn, when it is no longer visible, it’s time for food crops to be harvested and stored - the end of the crop cycle for the growing year.

In the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas is celebrated during mid-winter, a time of family, friends, feasting and, consequently, adding on a few kilos during the cooler months. Why not do the same here in our harvest season, to celebrate Matariki?

Cooking with the grandies

There are so many simple ways that you can do this and let’s hope you might achieve some of these this weekend…
  • Think about doing some baking with your children or grandchildren. It’s all about licking not tasting, as my wee grandson is quick to point out. Who cares about the end result when a finger dipped into the mix, will make it fun for everyone?
  • A long weekend is a great chance to catch up with friends and family, perhaps a progressive dinner with snacks at yours, pizza at ours and dessert at theirs.
  • What about taking your produce to work for a shared lunch? Take turns at making soup for shared Monday lunches, perfect for a chilly day and a wonderful use of that stack of butternut pumpkins in your garage. It’s amazing how different pumpkin soup can taste when made by different hands.
  • Share that harvest with your family and friends, make jams and preserves, they'll be welcomed with hot scones come winter.
Shared Pizza

Here in the Bay of Plenty, there is always an excess of citrus fruit. But not everyone has their own trees, pop some bags at the gate “free to a good home” and those without trees will love you for it. Better still have a go at making lemon curd with the kids these school holidays, they can make their own labels and give jars away as a Matariki present.

Making lemon curd

Now that we’re past the shortest day, plant your garlic and share it when harvest time comes. Plan ahead by digging new ground to extend your vegetable beds, and sow a green manure crop so it is ready to dig over and plant in spring.

Planning ahead

Matariki, in the middle of winter, is the perfect time to step out of the garden and into the warmth indoors. Your sodden garden beds will thank you for it - take a rest and you should too. There are plenty of planning tasks to undertake. Many harvesting tasks have already been completed but there’s sure to be some sorting out to be done. Are your harvested crops being stored in the right way? Have you finished the cleaning processes for all that seed you collected? Or is it sitting in buckets, trays and bins waiting for the final touch. Are you thinking about what and where to sow in the coming season?
Remember the lessons of previous seasons, celebrate what went right, then rotate your crops, adapt each variety to the best conditions and look ahead by planning for something new!
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