June 21, 2017
Celebrations well underway in Te Arawa for Matariki
Today's the winter solstice, which means maximum minutes of darkness to look for the Matariki star cluster.
At Te Puia, the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute at Whakarewarewa, Matariki events are in full swing.
General manager Eraia Kiel says there's an emphasis on activities such as Manutukutuku or kite flying, which was one way Maori people would traditionally communicate spiritually with the heavens; ta moko demonstrations; and performance, including a new Super 9 Kapa Haka competition in memory of Jojo Waaka who passed away recently, which will take place each afternoon next week.
He says they have been guided by scholar Dr Rangi Mataamua's view there are actually nine stars in the Matariki cluster, not the seven of the Pliedes constellation known to Western astronomy.
"Nine performers, nine minutes, $9000 worth of prizes. Te Matatini has stepped up and helped sponsor our events. It's going really well, lots of schools thorugh the doors in the past few days and everyone starting to get involved in the beautiful Matariki kaupapa, about new beginnings and acknowledging the past and acknowledging those who have passed in the last calendar year," Mr Kiel says.
Rotorua residents can join in the festivities for free by signing up for the annual Te Puia whanau card, while New Zealand residents can also receive a preferential rate.
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