Dawn ceremony to mark Matariki

Last year about a hundred people gathered at Makotukutuku — Cape Wanbrow Lookout in Oamaru to...
Last year about a hundred people gathered at Makotukutuku — Cape Wanbrow Lookout in Oamaru to learn more about the Matariki star cluster and welcome in the Māori new year. Similar numbers are expected this year. Photo: supplied
Next week is Matariki,the Māori New Year celebrations, and a special dawn ceremony, including stargazing, has become a community tradition along with other events throughout the week.

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in midwinter and for many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year. Iwi across New Zealand understand and celebrate Matariki in different ways and at different times.

Waitaki District Libraries leader of Māori services Lisa Jane Potaka-Ross said that Matariki was fast becoming the time of year for New Zealanders to think about this unique celebration.

"It’s a time to reflect on the year that’s been and to look to the year ahead," Ms Potaka-Ross said.

The dawn ceremony will take place at Makotukutuku, Cape Wanbrow Lookout, at 6.30am on Thursday, a day before the public holiday.

Other Matariki events include a community waiata (Māori song) on Tuesday and Wednesday next week at 1pm at the Oamaru Public Library.

Another event next Thursday at the library, at 10.15am, will be the unveiling of the new mural by local artist Wicksy.

"Wicksy was commissioned to come up with the design," she said

On Wednesday evening kaumātua Darren Rewi, from the Queenstown district, will speak about Matariki and Puaka (the seventh-brightest star in the sky and seen above Tautoru, Orion’s Belt, in the eastern sky in early morning).

The talk will be followed by waiata, hot chocolate and cookies.

Ms Potaka-Ross said the library staff had been working in collaboration with Māori astronomer Damien McNamara to put on an "exciting community programme."