Story: Maramataka – the lunar calendar

Page 2. Nights of the month

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The new moon determined the start of the lunar month, which lasted 29 and a half days. Rather than referring to the days of the month, Māori spoke of nights, and each night had its own name. Generally, Whiro was the first night of the new moon and Mutuwhenua was the last. Some nights were considered unlucky for planting and fishing, while others were favourable.

Names of the nights

There are a number of tribal variations relating to the nights of the moon. The following list has been adapted from the names and observations made by members of Ngāti Kahungunu:

Whiro: an unpleasant day, the new moon appears.
Tirea: the moon is very small.
Hoata: a pleasing day, the moon is still small.
Ōuenuku: get to work! A good night for eeling.
Okoro: a pleasing day in the afternoon, good for eeling at night.
Tamat[e]a-ngana: unpleasant weather, the sea is rough.
Tamatea-kai-ariki: the weather improves.
Huna: bad weather, food products suffer.
Ari-roa: favourable for spearing eels.
Maure: a fine, desirable day.
Māwharu: crayfish are taken on this day.
Ohua: a good day for working.
Hotu: an unpleasant day, the sea is rough.
Atua: an abominable day.
Turu: a day to collect food from the sea.
Rākau-nui: the moon is filled out, produce from the sea is the staple food.
Rākau-matohi: a fine day, the moon now wanes.
Takirau: fine weather during the morning.
Oike: the afternoon is favourable.
Korekore-te-whiwhia: a bad day.
Korekore-te-rawea: a bad day.
Korekore-hahani: a fairly good day.
Tangaroa-ā-mua: a good day for fishing.
Tangaroa-ā-roto: a good day for fishing.
Tangaroa-kiokio: an excellent day for fishing, a misty aspect prevails on land.
Ōtāne: a good day, and a good night for eeling.
Ōrongonui: a desirable day, the īnanga (whitebait) migrate.
Mauri: the morning is fine, the moon has now darkened.
Ōmutu: a bad day.
Mutuwhenua: an exceedingly bad day, the moon has expired. 1

  1. Adapted from Elsdon Best, The Maori division of time. Dominion Museum monograph no. 4. Wellington: Government Printer, 1986, pp. 34–35. › Back
How to cite this page:

Paul Meredith, 'Maramataka – the lunar calendar - Nights of the month', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 July 2024)

Story by Paul Meredith, published 12 Jun 2006