Matariki celebrations kick-off

JESS MCALLEN
Last updated 10:44 28/06/2014
Stuff.co.nz

The rising of the Matariki star constellation announces Te tau hou, the Māori New Year.

Auckland waterfront Matariki celebrations
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ Zoom
More than 250 people gathered at The Cloud on Auckland's waterfront this morning to celebrate Te tau hou, the Maori New Year.

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A dazzling dawn experience at waterfront Auckland kicked off the Matariki celebrations this morning.

More than 250 attendees used telescopes to see the rise of the Matariki star cluster over the peak of Rangitoto. The rising of the constellation announces Te tau hou, the Maori New Year.

The event, held at Auckland's Cloud venue, served a large communal breakfast and a host of waiata and speeches were held. Special telescopes allowed viewers to see an up-close view of the stars.

Whenua Patuwai  from X Factor also performed.

The Auckland Matariki Festival is running until 28 July. More than 92,700 people attended last year

It celebrates an important part of New Zealand culture with kapa haka, flax weaving (raranga), interactive hikoi and culinary delights.

"Historically, Matariki occurred at the end of the harvest season. It was a time to fill the storage houses (pātaka kai) with food and for whānau and friends to come together, acknowledge the successes of the past year, and look towards the year ahead," said Len Brown.

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