Matariki dawns in Waimate
Waimate celebrated its inaugural Matariki festival yesterday.
About 500 people, mostly from the district's schools, converged on the rugby clubrooms for a day of waiata and kai.
The festival celebrates the Maori new year, which is marked by the rise of Matariki and the sighting of the new moon.
Matariki is the Maori name for the group of stars also known as the Pleiades star cluster, or the Seven Sisters.
A powhiri was followed by spoken word on Waimate's history from iwi representatives Maku Davis-Te Maire and Tewera King.
A dozen schools and early childhood centres then presented songs and performances.
The event closed with a karakia and wound up with a hangi that included 60 kilograms of potatoes, 15 pumpkins, 200 kumaras, half a pig and 40 loaves of bread.
Co-ordinator Vanessa Fleming said it was an opportunity for Waimate youth to learn more about the town's unique Maori heritage. "We hope that this is the start of something good.
"People are already asking for more groups to be involved next year; it's been a massive success."
An educational resource had provided educators with the background.
Traditionally, depending on the visibility of Matariki, the coming season's crop was thought to be determined.
The brighter the stars indicated a warmer season and more productive crops. It was also an important time for family to consider the past and the future.
Yesterday was also the shortest day, the winter solstice.
The Timaru Herald