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  • The Relevance of Matariki to Gifted Education. By Leeana Herewini and Sarah Jane Tiakiwai

The Relevance of Matariki to Gifted Education. By Leeana Herewini and Sarah Jane Tiakiwai

Image CC By Christchurch City Libraries

Image CC by Christchuch City Libraries

Ngā mihi o te wā Matariki ki a koutou katoa.  Happy Māori new year to you all. 


As we write to celebrate gifted awareness week we are reminded that it is te wā o Matariki (Maori New Year).  Celebrating a new year in June seems to be a constructive metaphor to reflect upon and explore giftedness from a Maori perspective

Matariki is the Māori name for the small cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, in the Taurus constellation. In New Zealand it comes into view low on the north-eastern horizon, appearing in the tail of the Milky Way in the last days of May or in early June, just before dawn. Matariki occurred at the end of harvesting, when food stores were plentiful, having been gathered, preserved and made available for feasting. 

The Relevance of Matariki to Gifted Education

A June new year enables Māori to reflect on their relationship with the land and their environment.  More recently, Matariki is an opportunity for Māori to celebrate being Māori and is an acknowledgement that the traditions of the past are still, if not more, relevant in today’s changing world. Drawing from this understanding of Matariki, how do we celebrate the essence of what it is to be gifted? How do we acknowledge that being gifted is relevant in today’s changing world and how are we enabling opportunities to celebrate the giftedness amongst us?

The celebration of Matariki across Aotearoa is not dissimilar to the celebration of the Chinese New Year in that in a superficial sense, our cultures are able to find welcoming spaces across our landscape and, even if only for a brief moment, are able to shine positively about who we are as peoples. Extending this to our thinking and approaches to giftedness, to what extent are Māori children given opportunities to shine?  Do our schools have policies that identify, draw upon and acknowledge Maori ways of knowing and being – and thus what Māori giftedness might look like?  Do we create spaces that even if only for a brief moment, celebrate and include our diverse perceptions of giftedness?

Matariki depicts a time of resiliency and steadfastness. Matariki is also a time to reflect and so we encourage teachers during this time of Matariki to reflect on what it is they have achieved in gifted education and to remain steadfast and resilient in their continued advocacy of gifted education, definition, identification and provision for gifted learners.

In closing, be courageous and steadfast in gifted education in order to best serve our gifted learners. 

Kia maia

Kia manawanui

Poipoia a tātou tamariki ihumanea. 

Leeana Herewini & Sarah Jane Tiakiwai






An organisation for anyone with a professional interest in gifted and talented education.