How to start a new year

by | Jul 7, 2022 | Seasons Newsletter, Uncategorized | 4 comments



A profound cultural event has just taken place in Aotearoa: the first Matariki public holiday.

At last, the new year has come into alignment with the seasonal cycle of Aotearoa! — the return of the sun at winter solstice; the return of the stars at Matariki.

There is such depth in this alignment as we pause to reflect on the past and look to the future. The significance of this celebration and national holiday will continue to resonate through many layers and cultural connections.

Does it resonate for you?

For me, the winter new year feels natural and right. It is my ancestry, as it may be for many of you. Here in Aotearoa, with a Gregorian calendar imposed without any adjustment for the southern seasons, we have suffered a dislocation of meaning for too long.

You may not be used to the idea of starting a new year in winter. So what how do you do it?


Seeding a wish

At Matariki, the star Hiwa-i-te-Rangi invites you to make a wish for the New Year.

Now, in the dormant month of July, when the temperature plummets and darkness lingers, it is time for that wish to be gently held, like a baby in the womb or a seed in the ground.

Your wishes need to be held quietly, along with any visions or creative ideas that were conceived at winter solstice or Matariki.

Winter is the season of slow cooking, holding and slow dreaming.

Your wishes can take time to rest and settle. Nurture them and hold them close.

Plant your wishes into the rich soil of your caring.

Just as you don’t dig up bulbs or seeds to see if they are germinating, you don’t need to keep prodding at your wishes and visions. Give them time. Time is the gift of the winter New Year. Trust that if the soil is rich your wishes will slowly grow until the season has shifted into light and warmth.

How do you keep the soil rich?

Through self-care. Through winter rest. Replenishing. Aligning with the gentle beginnings of a new cycle.

In this way, you plant and prepare. Wishes become intentions. Then you will be ready to sprout and activate your visions in the greening surge of spring.

I wish you happy and peaceful beginnings!




Poipoia te kākano kia puāwai
Nurture the seed and it will bloom


Three books for the seasons.

Sun, Moon, and Stars will inspire you to celebrate with your family or whānau. See p. 96 for the chapter on ‘Birth of the Sun, Return of the Stars

Celebrating the Southern Seasons is a classic resource book. The first section of the first seasonal chapter is headed ‘Matariki: Herald of the New Year’ ( p.59) and will give you full information on Matariki and Puanga.

Dancing with the Seasons is a personal guide to the seasonal flow. Chapter Six (p. 108) begins with Matariki and includes many winter stories from different traditions.


  1. Peta Joyce

    Beautiful, Juliet, thank you. I particularly like the way you encourage slowness and nurturing in the dark. Such a counterpoint to the rush of today’s world and the push to always be in spring and summer growth energy. This year was particularly profound for me because of the public acknowledgment of Matariki, the alignment of a celebration both with tangata whenua and the season. Such a coming together with attunement for this land, this time, these people, and also with my own cultural heritage – magic indeed!

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you for your own beautiful reflections, Peta. I wish you a nurturing and restful new year, with plenty of time to assimilate the magic of these wonderful confluences.

  2. Deb Prince

    Thank you Juliet, for that lovely message about how to start a new year, and thank you also for the beautiful Matariki online ritual that you offered. It felt like such an honour to finally get to ritual with you, who, through your books, has informed and inspired all my experience of ritualling for the last 20 years – and on such an auspicious occasion!
    My seeding of a wish to Hiwa-i-te-Rangi at Matariki has already shown surprising results to me.
    It is certainly already shaping up to be an interesting new year for me.
    Thank you so much Juliet 🙏
    Arohanui to you and your whanau

    • Juliet Batten

      It was a pleasure to see you there, Deb, and thank you for your appreciative comments. How wonderful that the wish you seeded is already showing results! I wish you many good surprises as the year unfolds.


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