Iwi prepare for Puanga Star

22:09, Jun 09 2014
puanga
The traditional Puanga fire will be lit.

Parihaka is getting set to party this weekend to celebrate the beginning of Puanga.

The unique festival honours the rising of the Puanga star, which marks the beginning of the Maori New Year for Taranaki iwi.

In other areas around New Zealand, the celebrations are often referred to as Matariki. The star constellation was used historically for navigational purposes and provided a sign to people to prepare the soil for planting.

This theme of renewal is one which will be threaded throughout the weekend, said festival organiser Charissa Waerea.

Following Friday's powhiri, the traditional Puanga fire will be lit and will be maintained throughout the course of the weekend.

"It symbolises ahi kaa and the presence of people living on the land," she said.

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Stories from kaumatua will be shared around the fire and there will also be time for the people who had passed on to be remembered.

A range of different activities have been organised for the weekend including film screenings and live music as well as a chance for visitors to get hands-on in the community garden or as part of a working bee at the pa.

Waerea said although the weather was always a bit of a gamble at this time of year, she hoped it did not put people off from coming.

"We're extending the welcome out to people all over the maunga," she said.

She encouraged people to bring kai to share after the powhiri and people were welcome to stay on the marae overnight if they wanted to.

There are other events on to celebrate Puanga around the region over the next fortnight.

One such event is an art exhibition to be held at Hawera's Lysaght Watt Gallery which runs until June 27.

For more information about the festival visit www.puanga.info

Taranaki Daily News