Three Marlborough primary school teachers attended Matariki dawn celebrations for the first time this morning and enjoyed it so much they say they will definitely be back next year.
Margy Crosby and Allyson Court, of the Bohally Intermediate bilingual unit, and Merehira Wills, of Whitney Street School, celebrated Matariki (Maori New Year) with about 60 others at the Wairau Bar in Spring Creek this morning.
The three friends had talked about attending Matariki celebrations for a week. "I just thought it was high time I participated," Mrs Crosby said.
She said she would definitely be back next year and she encouraged others to attend.
The "back-to-basics" ceremony included mau rakau (Maori martial arts), karanga (song) and karakia (prayer) around a blazing fire on the bar. Everyone was reminded about remembering and keeping in touch with their families.
"It's about whanau sharing, talking and learning," Ms Court said.
Listening to the speakers reminded her of her grandmother and other family members, she said.
Matariki is the Maori name for the Pleiades constellation, a bright cluster of seven stars also known as the Seven Sisters. The first new moon after the appearance of Matariki marks the start of the Maori New Year, which this year falls today.
Matariki was visible at the Wairau Bar this morning as a murky smudge in the sky.
Speaker Richard Bradley spent the last five Matariki in Wellington, but this year wanted to spend it at home "with the locals".
Organiser Kiley Nepia said Matariki was about reconnecting with whanau and cultural identity, and rekindling relationships. He was pleased to see children attending. It gave him hope they would carry on the tradition.
The location for the ceremony was particularly significant following the repatriation of the Rangitane tupuna (ancestor's bones) in April to the site, Mr Nepia said.
- The Marlborough Express