Matariki is the Maori New Year which is a time of celebration and the remembrance of ancestors.
It is based on the rising of the Pleiades. In astronomy the Pleiades are the seven sisters, a star cluster in the constellation of Taurus, appearing in mid winter. It is the nearest cluster to earth and you can see it with your naked eyes.
In the Pacific it was very important for navigation and it was also used as weather forecast.
The story goes that Matariki, the mother was surrounded by her six daugthers. They are there to assist the sun "Te Ra" who has become weakened by the winter jouney.
Matariki means the Eyes of Rā (Mata a Ariki), Rā being the Sun God. Another translation is ‘little eyes’ (mata riki).
Another legend goes that Ranginui the sky father and Papatuanuku the earth mother were separated from their children. Tawhirimatea, the god of the winds, was so angry that he tore out his eyes in rage and flung them into the heavens, where they now exist as Matariki, from Mata Ariki, the eyes of god.
Ngai Tahu is the main iwi (tribe) in the South of New Zealand. My friend at work, Reita is from the Ngai Tahu and I wish her and everyone else Hara matariki, Happy maori New year