Illustration of mountains and a night sky with white Matariki stars

Māori business Kono shares the meaning behind each star in the Matariki cluster

Home » Anne Kennedy » Māori business Kono shares the meaning behind each star in the Matariki cluster

5 July 2021

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Matariki gives Māori business Kono the chance to reflect on the year and recommit to the traditional values that help them deliver beautiful food and drink to Aotearoa and the world.

The cooler seasons often bring with them a time to slow down and reflect. Falling within the winter season in Aotearoa is Matariki, a time in te ao Māori to reflect on the past year and look to the future. It is a chance to give respect to the land on which we live, and acknowledge what we have and what we have to give. Matariki is a recognition of culture and people – our unique place in the world.

Matariki is the name for the cluster of stars that appears in our skies around June/July each year. The appearance of Matariki, and another star marker, Puanga, signals the start of the Te Tau Hou, the Māori New Year. For Kono, a Māori family-owned food and drinks business, Matariki has become another opportunity to think about connections to the natural world.

While some traditions talk about seven stars in the cluster, nine stars are also recognised in te ao Māori. Iwi have their own names for each of the stars, but the most common are Tupu-ā-rangi, Ururangi, Waipuna-ā-rangi, Tupu-ā-nuku, Waitī, Waitā, Pōhutukawa, Hiwa-i-te-rangi and Matariki. Each star represents a different aspect of the environment and the natural world.


The forest wildlife is Tupu-ā-rangi’s concern. She acts as a reminder to take care of natural resources.


Wind is the part of the natural world Ururangi watches over. She reminds us to consider the strength and importance of the different winds, and to be prepared for whatever they may bring.


Rain and snow are Waipuna-ā-rangi’s focus. She understands the volume of rain, whether too much or too little, can have an impact on the environment. She reminds us of the impact human actions can have on the natural world and encourages us to think about how we can change our ways to help support the recovery of our earth due to the impact of climate change.


Edible plants are what Tupu-ā-nuku watches over. She reminds those preparing the land to cultivate edible plants, like kawakawa and pūhā, to ensure the soil is healthy and to take into consideration what they’re planting, and how much, so they don’t put undue pressure on the land.


Waitī reminds us to learn from what our freshwater environments can tell us. Waitī helps us to understand how our waters, whether a river, spring, or lake, can provide what we need to nourish us and support us.


Where Waitī looks over our lakes, Waitā looks out beyond and into our oceans. She reminds us about how the way we interact with our oceans has an impact on the way they can continue to support us. Waitā reminds us to treat our oceans and the diverse life that resides within it with respect.


Pōhutukawa is the star associated with those who have passed on. It reminds us to remember those who have left us during the year, and of the natural cycle of life and death that surrounds us.


Hiwa-i-te-rangi is the youngest star in the cluster and is the star that you send your wishes for the coming year to – a star associated with growth and opportunities, and hopes for a strong harvest in the year to come.


The star Matariki is about hope, reflection and remembering our connection to the environment. Matariki is also connected to the health and wellbeing of people.

In a way, Matariki brings the focus of all the other stars together, as Matariki encourages people to come together and reflect on their turangawaewae – their connection with the land.

Holding fast to values

Kono’s brands include Tohu and Kono Wines, Hop Federation craft beer, Tutū Cider, Annies fruit snacks, Kono Seafood, and Yellow Brick Road. They produce food and beverages for Aotearoa and beyond from the land and sea of the tūpuna of their families.

Kono’s mission is to deliver value, by nurturing people and the environment to create beautiful products from Aotearoa that the world wants. In everything it does, Kono holds fast to values – rangatiratanga – excellence in all they do; manaakitanga – rise by lifting others; whanaungatanga – together they are more; kaitiakitanga – duty, heritage, legacy; hihiritanga – doing things better, doing better things; and pono – they do as they say.

Being good kaitiaiki is top of mind when harvesting kaimoana for Kono Seafood and Yellow Brick Road. When growing the vines for their Kono and Tohu Wines, their winemakers work in a way that will ensure the soil and land will be healthy and will continue to produce stunning wine.

Kono has a strong connection with Te Tauihu, at the top of Te Wai Pounamu (the South Island). This connection is referred to as tūrangawaewae — a place to stand. They understand that kaitiakitanga is essential to ensure they continue their kaupapa as food providers and kaitiaki for their land.

Illustration of Te Tauihu marketing the top of New Zealand's South Island

Traditionally, Matariki would follow the harvest, when whānau and hapū would have finished gathering food to fill the pātaka kai, and there was time to come together while giving the land time to rest before another cycle of growth begins.

Treating the land with respect, harvesting in a sustainable manner, and coming together to share kai with whānau and friends are all aspects of Matariki that are embraced by Kono. Each year at Matariki, the Kono team gather to look back on the year that has been, and look forward to the coming year.

A focus for the future for Kono will be to continue to develop a tikanga-led approach based on an intricate, holistic and interconnected relationship with the natural world and its resources, and the application of regenerative Māori farming practices. It’s an ongoing journey of re-learning and discovery – and the stars of Matariki will help guide the way.

Matariki atua kaeke mai i terangi e roa, E whāngainga iho ki te mata o te tau e roa e. Divine Matariki come forth from the far-off heaven, Bestow the first fruits of the year upon us.

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