Kiddies set for sparkling Matariki

KAT DUGGAN
Last updated 09:33 19/06/2014
Te Kupenga preschoolers
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ
HAPPY MATARIKI: Te Kupenga preschoolers, from left, Alex Sheppard, 4, Pippa Minhinnick, 4, and Kepa Smith, 4, have spent the past weeks getting ready to celebrate Matariki, the Maori new year, next week.

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Two hundred people are expected to gather at the Rangitahi Hall at Omaka Marae next week to celebrate Matariki, the Maori New Year.

Te Kupenga Preschool, based at the marae, is hosting a disco to celebrate the occasion, which marks the rise of constellation Pleiades on the north eastern horizon towards the end of May each year.

The Pleiades constellation is also known as Matariki, and New Year celebrations are traditionally held on the night of the next new Moon, usually in June or July.

Head teacher Stacey Gerritsen said the disco was a chance to acknowledge the school's bicultural community and educate the children about what Matariki is all about.

During the past weeks children at the playcentre had been learning about the occasion, which they have summed up into three words, celebration, commemoration, and cultivation.

"It's about celebrating the new year, commemorating people that may have passed away and cultivation, preparing for the growing season ahead," Gerritsen said.

Support with organising the event had come from the wider community, including from Mitre 10 Mega, who arranged 200 packets of seeds to be donated for the children to plant.

The Blenheim Early Childhood Centres preschool would host children and parents from their John St and Uptown centres, as well as Nga Puawai Kohanga Reo and the Omaka Honomai Kapa Haka group.

Each of the groups would present a waiata, and a DJ would keep the crowd entertained in between performances, Gerritsen said.

A group of dedicated staff and parents had spent the last couple of months planning the disco, and the children had made about 200 stars and a Matariki tree to decorate the hall, she said.

Although Matariki this year fell next Saturday, the disco would be on Friday night.

kat.duggan@mex.co.nz

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- The Marlborough Express

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