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A new year at Waikawa Beach, 2017

We're coming close to the winter solstice — from 4.24 pm Wednesday 21 June 2017 the days will start getting longer, and the sun moves more southward again. It's now we celebrate the mid-point of the European year and the start of the Māori new year with Puanga Matariki:

This year the Horowhenua District Council in partnership with Muaupoko Tribal Authority are coordinating a series of events across the district for Puanga Matariki.

Beginning and ending at Horowhenua’s culture and community centre, Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-po, the week of 16 - 25 June will include events at Foxton and Shannon this year.

When the Matariki stars rise in the eastern skies of New Zealand, it signals a celebration of the Māori new year throughout the country. The Horowhenua celebrates Puanga, the new year’s star visible throughout Matariki from along New Zealand’s west coast. It is a time to wānanga, to honour the ancestors and plant hope for the future.

Puanga is known to many as the star Rigel in the constellation of Orion, while Matariki is also known as the Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters. On the star map below Matariki is circled in white. The map shows the sky at sunrise on 16 June 2017. You can see Puanga, Rigel, at top right, Venus at top left and the sun at the bottom, about to rise above the horizon.

Puanga 2017. The map shows the sky at sunrise on 16 June 2017.

Puanga 2017. The map shows the sky at sunrise on 16 June 2017.

We're lucky at Waikawa Beach to have dark skies and clean air so we can enjoy the stars.

Whether we just look outside at dawn on the 16th or join in on all the activities at Te Takere for the week we can all celebrate a fresh start.