A star is reborn

Waitiati School pupils Leilani Baeumer (10, left) and Eamon 
Waitiati School pupils Leilani Baeumer (10, left) and Eamon Wilson (12) hold up a prototype of the large sky lanterns planned to be released during Matariki celebrations. Photo by Bruce Munro.
Image supplied.
Image supplied.

Something special is on the horizon. Matariki is when the stars rise to greet the new year. Nigel Benson previews the 2014 Puaka Matariki Festival.

A star is reborn in Dunedin next month. The Maori New Year will begin on June 28 this year, with the appearance of the first new moon after the rising of the Matariki, or Puaka, cluster of stars.

Matariki is celebrated in various guises around the world. The Bible, Koran and Talmud all mention the constellation. Australian Aborigines refer to it as ''the Seven Sisters'', while in Japan it is known as ''Subaru'' and the stars used as the Subaru Motors logo.

The event will usher in a month of celebrations and activities in Dunedin. The 2014 Puaka Matariki Festival will feature more than 50 events by local community groups, individuals and organisations.

''People are finding real meaning in the traditional Maori recognition of Matariki and Puaka. It makes sense to come together, share good food and have some fun in the middle of winter to celebrate the new year,'' festival co-ordinator Antony Deaker says.

''What I love about this festival is that it's special on several levels; we have Dunedin as a series of villages, where communities are coming together at a real grass-roots level to be together, to share food, to have a concert, to talk about the year that's passed and the year that's coming,'' he said.

''All of our communities from Mosgiel to Karitane are doing it differently and in their own way. This is amazing and I can't think of other times that draw us together in this way.''

The sixth annual Puaka Matariki Festival will celebrate community, culture, children and kai.

''The celebrations focus on the wellbeing of community and whanau through being together, expressing ourselves and sharing ideas about who we are,'' Mr Deaker said.

''It's a time when achievements are acknowledged and to remember the people who passed away and the year that was and talk about the year that's coming.''

The festival has captured hearts and minds since it was founded 2009, with about 16,000 people attending or participating in 117 events last year, from Mosgiel to Karitane.

''The council [DCC] is very proud to support the festival. We love the different ways the different communities that make up our city create events that celebrate Puaka Matariki,'' events and community development manager Rebecca Williams said.

''The council's commitment to the festival is an important expression of our partnership with iwi and the Maori community of Dunedin. We also see enormous public value in the insightful, inspirational and educational opportunities created in the events that make up the Puaka Matariki Festival.''

The DCC now provides $35,000 funding for the festival and the event is supported by the Otago Community Trust and Auahi Kore.

''The festival includes real grass-roots events, where the local community will come together at their local hall, schools, kohanga and kindies to share activities like lantern parades, hangi and storytelling. A lot of schools are acting as hubs for their communities during the festival,'' Mr Deaker said.

''Many local Maori organisations put on annual events and local institutions, like the [Orokonui] ecosanctuary, museums and observatory, run public programmes to celebrate Puaka Matariki. We are also seeing the presentation of top quality contemporary and traditional Maori performing arts.''

The festival is embraced by many Dunedin schools, kindergartens and playcentres, while the traditional highlight is the Dunedin Midwinter Carnival, which will have a ''Winter Dreamland'' theme this year and feature giant lanterns, taniwha, stilt-walkers, dancers, drummers, fireworks, food and live music.

- nigel.benson@odt.co.nz

Puaka Matariki Festival
The 2014 Puaka Matariki Festival is on from June 15 to July 13.

Matariki at a glance
- June 13 to July 11, every Friday: A weekly 105.4FM Otago Access Radio show looking at Puaka Matariki projects, with previews and reviews.
- June 14 to July 11: ''It's a wonderful day, it's a wonderful night'' Studio2 mixed-media art exhibition at Margaret Freeman Gallery.
- June 15: Puaka Matariki Harakeke star-making workshop at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. June 15 to July 13: Matariki paper-based activities for children at Otago Museum.
- June 15: Sculptural light installation ''Te Waka Marama'', 6 Barvas St, Karitane.
- June 17: Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Otepoti hosts a day of Maori learning and culture.
- June 21: Dunedin Midwinter Carnival, Octagon.
- June 21: ''Whakaahua: Coming to Form'' dance performance by Louise Potiki Bryant at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum.
- June 22: Puaka Matariki Living Arts Festival at Otago Museum, Hutton Theatre.
- June 23 to July 13: Traditional and contemporary Maori art exhibition at Dunedin Community Gallery.
- June 23 to July 5: Korowai (Maori feather cloak) weaving exhibition at Koru New Zealand Art and Jade Gallery.
- June 25: Marae Idol at Araiteuru Marae. June 27: Matariki lantern parade at St Leonards Playcentre.
- June 27 and June 28: Remembering those who have passed at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Otepoti.
- June 27: Kite making and flying at Arahina Family Support Centre, Mosgiel.
- June 28: Hineraukatauri concert at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum.
- June 28: Screening of The Art and Practice of Simon Kaan at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
- June 28 and 29: Southern Stargazing in the Otago Museum Starlab planetarium.
- June 28 and June 29: Te Whare Wananga o Te Whanau Arohanui in Waitati.
- June 28 to July 4: See the Puaka and Matariki constellations from Orokonui Ecosanctuary.
- June 29: Puaka Matariki Planting Day at Tomahawk Beach, followed by a barbecue.
- June 29: Screening of Maori art film Paranesia, by Peter Stupples and David Green.
- June 29: Musicians Ariana Tikao and Ben Lumi perform a Te Reo concert at Orokonui Ecosanctuary.
- July 5 to July 11: Puaka Matariki Art Exhibition at Orokonui Ecosanctuary.
- July 9 to July 13: A lamp project by Dunedin artist Rebecca Cameron in the Dunedin Athenaeum.
- July 11 and 12: Okareka Dance Company celebrates the strength, power and beauty in women in Mana Wahine at the Regent Theatre.
- July 12 and July 13: Matariki stories, games, arts and crafts at Orokonui Ecosanctuary.
- July 12: Matariki Hunga Nui community hangi at Dunedin North Intermediate.
- July 12: ''Waterlines III'' multimedia art event at the Anteroom, Port Chalmers.
- July 12 and 13: Brockville ''Hip, Brave and Happy Hop'' at Brockville Community Hall.
- July 13: Matariki Pecha Kucha night at Araiteuru Marae.

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