As many of you will be aware, mid June - early July is the time of the year where Māori, and other parts of the Pacific, welcome in Matariki - the Māori new year. The new year signifies the beginning of a new life cycle, time to reflect and be grateful, as well celebrate the harvest of food and supply for the year ahead. It is refreshing to see that as Aotearoa strips away the affects of Colonisation, occasions such as Matariki are beginning to once again become regularly integrated parts of NZ culture and fabric.
During Matariki last year, renowned Māori astronomer, Dr. Rangi Mātāmua, made some striking comments about time and calendars which I think we relate to our understanding of faith, God and time.
In an interview, he compared the Gregorian calendar - which is the calendar we live by today - to the indigenous calendar of Matariki and other indigenous pacific communities. The Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, is a solar calendar which follows the motion of the Sun - i.e. 365 days long.
The Matariki calendar, by contrast, is a lunar calendar which follows the motion of the moon. When comparing the two, Dr. Mātāmua pointed out the the Gregorian Calendar is a human attempt to control the patterns and paths of nature. It is mans attempts to inform nature when something should happen. Summer starts on this date, then Autumn, Winter, Spring. None of these have flexibility or change.
Indigenous calendars such as Matariki however, rely on nature itself to inform people of when change in season and time should naturally occur. This is why Matariki is never on the exact same each year. This points to a relationship between man and creation where nature is the determiner and definer of life's activities. Man merely works in tandem with where the seasons determine.