New year dawns for local Maori

21:41, Jun 15 2014

Puanga is a special time of year for Puna Te Aroha Wharehoka.

Wharehoka, of Parihaka, said it was about "harvesting, growing food and helping people out".

Puanga is a constellation that marks the Maori new year for Taranaki tribes. It is also a time of giving thanks to ancestors and preparing the soil for next year's harvest.

Wharehoka said the festival brings people back to the pa, where she grew up.

The day-long festival on Saturday started with a working bee at Parihaka's community garden.

Visitors were encouraged to roll up their sleeves and help till the soil.

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A group of people were already hard at work raking, planting and shovelling when the Taranaki Daily News arrived at the site.

This is the third year the festival has been held at Parihaka and Wharehoka hopes to see more and more people attending each year.

She said Parihaka was very different when she was a young girl, with a lot more families now settling in the area.

"When growing up, I had my brothers, sisters and the pa kids. But now, every single house has kids and we have our little gatherings."

For Justine Francis, of Okato, it was her first experience of Puanga at Parihaka.

"Parihaka had always been on my mind as a place I need to visit because of its history," she said.

Amanda Kisby heads back to Parihaka at least once a month.

"For the kids, this is their homestead," Kisby said.

"Their uncles and aunties grew up here and their nana lives here on the pa."

Kisby said it was important for her children to learn the "lifestyle of the pa".

"It keeps them grounded. It's the grass roots of basic living and teaches them tikanga, such as the values of hard work, looking after people."

Saturday's events included a workshop on traditional tangihanga (funeral rites) methods, movies and documentaries, traditional Maori games and live music.

Taranaki Daily News