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  • In this activity, students learn about star constellations and that various cultures have their own names and legends about them. They will appreciate that identifying constellations and remembering where they are in relation to each other are important for wayfinding.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • explain what a constellation and/or star cluster is
    • explain what the Pleiades (Matariki) constellation is
    • retell at least two of the legends attached to the Pleiades constellation
    • explain why various cultures might have given names to stars and told legends about them
    • describe the celestial sphere and why this knowledge is still useful (extra for experts)
    • explore the nine whetū/stars in the star cluster Matariki and the domain each whetū holds over a particular area of wellbeing and the environment (optional).

    Download the Word file (see link below) for:

    • introduction/background notes
    • what you need
    • what to do.

    Related content

    The article The Matariki star cluster explores Matariki from both science and te ao Māori perspectives.

    This activity uses online and/or paper-based resources to identify and label the nine whetū in Matariki and learn about their associations with wellbeing and the environment.

    Continue the adventure with this cross-curricular activity to explore written and visual components of the report’s Matariki representations. Great inspiration for poetry and art!

    Useful links

    Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. Just set your coordinates and you can see a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you'd see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.

    The EarthSky website has Northern Hemisphere Pleiades images. The Te Papa Tongarewa website has Southern Hemisphere Matariki and Puanga images and video to view and discuss.

    Look up star constellations images, for example use one or more of these sites below:

    On the Astronomy Down Under website, see the activity in which a number of different stories about the Pleiades are discussed, including an Aboriginal version from the Dream Time .

      Published 13 November 2014, Updated 28 April 2022 Referencing Hub articles
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