As the Māori New Year dawns upon us, it is an opportune time to celebrate the intersection of cultural traditions and the wondrous journey of breastfeeding. Matariki, the cluster of stars that signals the start of the Māori New Year, holds profound significance in Māori culture. In this post, we explore the connections between Matariki and breastfeeding, highlighting the nurturing essence of both and the strengthening role they play in the lives of whānau (family).
Matariki: A Celebration of New Beginnings:
Matariki is a time of reflection, renewal, and connection with the land, sky, and community. Traditionally, it marks the beginning of the Māori agricultural calendar and the time to honor ancestors, share stories, and express gratitude for the bounties of nature. It is a time of new beginnings, just as breastfeeding represents a new start for whānau, nurturing the bond and providing nourishment.
Whakapapa: A Connection to Ancestral Wisdom:
Matariki holds immense cultural significance as a time for embracing whakapapa, the Māori concept of genealogy and interconnectedness. Breastfeeding, too, embodies a connection to whakapapa, passing down the mātauranga of nourishing and nurturing infants, as well as strengthening the biological connections between the generations. It is a testament to the enduring strength of traditions and the vital role of breastfeeding in sustaining cultural ways or tikanga.
Breastfeeding: Nurturing with Manaakitanga:
Manaakitanga, the Māori value of hospitality, respect, and care, aligns harmoniously with the nurturing essence of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding provides infants with the most natural and complete form of nutrition, nurturing their physical and emotional well-being. It fosters a bond between māmā and pēpi, and between them and the whānau, embodying the spirit of manaakitanga, ensuring the well-being and flourishing of future generations.
Whenua and Mātauranga: Connecting to the Land and Knowledge:
The practice of breastfeeding connects whānau to the whenua (land) and the mātauranga (knowledge) that has been passed down through generations. Just as Matariki celebrates the relationship between people and the land, breastfeeding symbolizes the connection to nature, emphasizing the importance of sustainable practices, and honoring the nourishment provided by Papatūānuku (Mother Earth).
Community and Support:
Matariki is a time for gathering, sharing, and fostering community spirit. Similarly, breastfeeding thrives in an environment of support and community. Whānau, midwives, lactation consultants, and breastfeeding support groups play a vital role in creating a supportive network for mothers, offering guidance, encouragement, and shared experiences.
As we embrace the beauty and significance of Matariki, let us also celebrate the remarkable journey of breastfeeding. Both embody the values of nurturing, connection, and the preservation of cultural heritage. They serve as reminders of the strength, resilience, and wisdom that flow through generations. Let us honor the rich traditions of Matariki and the empowerment of breastfeeding, recognizing the profound impact they have on the health and well-being of whānau, communities and the environment.
During this Matariki, let us cherish the nurturing bond between māmā, pēpi, and whānau, the connection to ancestral wisdom, and the traditions that shape our lives. May the guiding stars of Matariki and the nourishing essence of breastfeeding illuminate our paths and create a future filled with love, strength, and cultural pride.
Note: This blog post aims to highlight the cultural significance of Matariki and the breastfeeding journey.