Thu 28 Jun 2018

Understanding Puanga

WITT staff and students were given an insight into the Māori New Year this year by visiting speaker Te Poihi Campbell at Te Piere.

He discussed the signature markers of the New Year – the rising of the star cluster Matariki and the star Puanga - and why there is a difference – but concentrated his talk on the significance of the time of year.

Matariki – also known at the Pleiades and Subaru is a group of stars not always visible to iwi in Taranaki, Whanganui, parts of Auckland and the West Coast of the South Island at the time of the Māori New Year. Instead, they look for the rising of Puanga – one of the brightest stars in the sky which is also known as Rigel in the constellation of Orion.

Te Poihi, an award-winning broadcaster who works with Te Korimako o Taranaki, wove his story through the words of the composition Tērā Puanga.

He told students Puanga was a time of reflection and remembrance, a time to “turn the garden over”.  For students, it was a time to consider planning and aspirations.

He said Matariki-Puanga had enjoyed a renaissance in recent years – and in reflecting on those who had passed, noted the contribution to that renaissance of former Cabinet Minister Koro Wetere, whose tangi was held at Tūrangawaewae, Ngāruawahia this week.

 The Puanga celebration came with a hangi at Te Piere – and a big turnout.

The rising of Matariki will officially be marked from July 4-6, but Te Poihi said the Māori New Year was a time not “date specific” defined by a particular day.