Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in midwinter and for many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year.
Iwi across New Zealand understand and celebrate Matariki in different ways and at different times. Every year, thousands of people take part in events to honour and celebrate this special time. 2022 is the first year a new public holiday marking Matariki will be held.
Matariki is an abbreviation of ‘Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea (‘The eyes of the god Tāwhirimātea’). According to Māori tradition, the god of the wind, Tāwhirimātea, was so angry when his siblings separated their parents, Ranginui the sky father and Papatūānuku the earth mother, that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens.
Many iwi speak of the Matariki stars as a mother and her daughter, so the story makes fitting inspiration for a tamariki’s (child’s) room or nursery – and it puts a uniquely regional twist on a typical star or space-themed space to spur a lifelong fascination with our connection to the universe that surrounds us.
Because a nursery should be just as relaxing for mum and dad as it is for baby, we decorated our ‘star studded’ space in restful, recessive and mostly neutral paint colours with a few pops of a sweet and dreamy aqua blue. Resene Mystic was used as the base hue for our walls, floor and ceiling – save for our feature wall in Resene Warrior, a deep and dusky green blue, which emulates the depths of the night sky. Using a pencil, we marked out the general design of the Matariki constellation – as well as another beloved and recognisable arrangement, the Southern Cross. Then, we used a small artist paintbrush to apply Resene Black White in two coats to trace over our larger star shapes. If your room gets plenty of natural light, one idea is to apply two to three topcoats to your stars in Resene FX Nightlight, a waterborne glow-in-the-dark paint designed to softly shine after the sun has gone down. We then punctuated the rest of the wall with hand-painted dots to create the awe-inspiring effect of the Milky Way.
To round out our colour scheme and carry it across the space, we used Resene Warrior, Resene Half Jumbo and Resene Reservoir to paint furniture and décor such as the side table, a wall hook, a set of shelves for displaying story books, a storage box for stashing extra blankets and supplies, as well as a few decorative vases and plant pots. To add a touch of sparkle to tie into the star theme, we also painted a few select ornaments and accessories in Resene Proton metallic.
Kites also have significance to the Matariki story and making kites is a popular activity for kids to make at school or with their whanau in midwinter. We’ve given a nod to this tradition by creating a 3D kite mobile out of a craft hoop painted in Resene Proton, some glittering silver string and thick craft paper painted in Resene Reservoir, Resene Half Jumbo and Resene Black White.
To finish off the look, a couple of star cushions that coordinate with the Resene colour palette carry on the theme, a rocking chair for mum and dad to sit in during feeding, and a soft plush rug to protect your baby’s skin during tummy time will help make your Matariki space extra cosy for the whole family. And as your baby grows, you’ll already have a beautiful base in place that can be easily transitioned into a handsome bedroom fit for a toddler.
Accessories: Aspen Cot from Mocka. Organic Cotton Crinkle Blanket from Kmart. Star Cushion in Grey from Kmart. Woven Tufted Rug from Kmart. Organic Cotton Jersey Fitted Sheets in Stars from Kmart. Anko Decorative Beads from Kmart. Wooden Sensory Pack from Kmart. Knit Peter Rabbit Plush Toy from Toyco. Living & Co Slub Cushion in Aqua from The Warehouse. Story books from The Warehouse.
Bring the magic of the Matariki and Southern Cross constellations to life on the walls of your child’s room with a glow-in-the-dark mural.
First, paint your wall in two coats of Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to your colour of choice. We used Resene Warrior to resemble the inky blue of the night sky. Next, we planned out our design using a photo of the constellations as a reference and a piece of chalk to mark the placement of our stars. Since Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen works just like a chalkboard, simply wipe away the chalk with a damp cloth if you make a mistake.
Once you’re happy with the placement of your stars, use a small artist paintbrush and a testpot of Resene Black White or another favourite Resene white to paint on your constellation design in two coats. We chose to make our main stars scalloped with eight points each, but feel free to make yours even more or less of a traditional star shape to suit your personal tastes. While you could decide to keep your mural simple, we wanted to give ours more depth during the daylight hours so we painted a random assortment of smaller and larger dots and crosses littered throughout our night sky.
Finally, apply 2-3 coats of Resene FX Nightlight glow-in-the-dark paint over any stars that you want to glow. For the best result, apply three coats, leaving 45-60 minutes between coats. Leave it to 'charge' in UV light during the day. When the lights flick off at night, then your constellations will appear. As the night continues, the glow will slowly soften.
Kites have always played an important role in Māori culture, particularly during the winter season when they were flown to signify the start of Matariki, the Māori New Year. Māori flew kites for recreation, but also to communicate, measure the likelihood of a successful enemy attack or to find offenders.
Create this adorable kite mobile with a few simple supplies. You will need a macramé hoop (or similar), string or thread, glue, scissors, a pencil, an A2 size sheet of heavy cardstock (plus another small scrap of cardstock), a Resene testpot brush and Resene testpots in four colours of your choice – we used Resene Proton metallic, Resene Reservoir, Resene Half Jumbo and Resene Black White.
First, use your Resene testpot brush to paint a smooth layer of three of your paint colours so that they each cover one third of your A2 size sheet of card stock in two coats. Allow your first coat to dry before applying your second coat. We used Resene Reservoir, Resene Half Jumbo and Resene Black White.
While your paper is drying, apply two coats of your fourth testpot colour to your macramé hoop, allowing the first to dry before moving on to the second. We used Resene Proton metallic.
Use a scrap piece of cardstock or thick paper approximately 8cm2 to create a template for your kites. Fold the scrap in half then make two cuts away from the fold towards the outer edges of your paper to create a ‘kite’ or diamond shape. From your leftover offcuts, cut a small bowtie shape. This will be used to make the ‘ties’ on the tail of your kite strings. Alternatively, you can use our design below as a template.
Using a pencil, trace the outlines of your templates on to your painted paper. For each kite you would like to add to your mobile, you will need four kite shapes and four tie shapes. We made three of each colour for our mobile, so we cut 12 of each shape in each colour.
Cut nine 60cm lengths of string/thread. We used thin cotton string that has a hint of silver woven into it for extra sparkle.
Fold each kite shape in half lengthwise with the painted surface facing inward. Use a glue stick or glue gun to adhere one half of the backsides of the four kites together in a circle, but before sealing the circle ‘closed’, lay/glue a length of thread through the centre so that approximately 8-10cm dangles out of the bottom and approximately 50cm comes out of the top. Repeat this for all of your kites.
Use glue to sandwich the end of your string/thread between the unpainted surfaces of two tie shapes closer to the bottom of the kite. Repeat again closer to the end of your string, so that you have two tie shapes on each kite string. Repeat this for all of your kites.
Tie the longer end of each kite string to your macramé hoop approximately halfway up the string, double knotting to keep it in place. You may choose to alternate the colours of your kites and tie them so that come kites hang lower or higher than others.
Slide your knots along the hoop so that your kites are evenly distributed then gather the free ends of your strings and knot them together.
Optional: Tie a small wooden or metal ring at the top of your mobile to make it easier to hang.
Project by Laura Lynn Johnston. Photography by Bryce Carleton. 2022
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