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The new year doesn't always start on Jan. 1

By: Josh Lew on Dec. 28, 2016, 12:07 p.m.
Huge kites are launched part of Matariki Festival celebrations

Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

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Maori New Year (June)

Matariki is a traditional Maori celebration. The holiday marks the rise of a cluster of seven stars (known as the Pleiades Cluster to Western astrologists) that are important in Maori astrology. The stars become visible in late May and reach their height in June, when the holiday is officially marked with cultural performances and celebrations. One special practice involves gather to fly colorful kites (pictured).

The festival coincides with winter in the Southern Hemisphere, the end of harvest season in New Zealand. The holiday was nearly forgotten for decades, but it was revived by a group of Maori as a cultural celebration in the early 2000s. It has grown every year since then, and events are now attended by Kiwis of all ethnicities.