Shauni James is a Rotorua Daily Post reporter

Great night celebrating whanau (+pics&video)

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The Rotorua Museum's Matariki Whanau Night was a successful event which drew many families together to celebrate whanau and Maori culture.

Rotorua Museum event co-ordinator Kathy Nicholls said about 350 people attended the event yesterday, which was up on last year's numbers.

Ms Nicholls said the event had been "really successful" and it was about the fourth year they had run the show.

"We had lots of positive responses about how there was lots to do and lots of things to keep the children busy."

Those who attended one of the two sessions were able to enjoy interactive story-telling, kapa haka performances from local schools, face painting and a range of Matariki themed crafts.

There had been big crowds of people who watched and enjoyed the story of Te Ao (The World) through Maori puppets and instruments by James Webster and his team, she said.

She commended the kapa haka group from Whangamarino School - "They were so cute and cool to watch".

Those who attended were also able to explore the museum's family and science based exhibition Sunlight - Ihi Komaru.

Ms Nicholls said the ultra violet face painting "worked out a treat", and the children could get stars and solar systems painted.

She said every year they tried to do something a little bit different and it seemed very popular.

Rotorua's Desiree Thompson said she enjoyed the night and it was great to see so many Maori activities. She said she enjoyed the puppet show and the kapa haka performances, as one of her grandchildren was in the kapa haka.

She would "absolutely" recommend the event to others, she said.

Ani Thompson, 13, said she thought the event was fun and the face painting was one of her favourite parts.

"They were pretty and glow-in-the-dark."

She said she also enjoyed the puppet story because it was funny, and she would like to go back to the event again.

Eight-year-old Layla Thompson said the Matariki Whanau Night had been funny and fun, with her favourite parts being the space binoculars, face painting and kapa haka.

She said she enjoyed the kapa haka because she had a cousin performing and the face painting "looked really cool".

The binoculars took you into space, which was exciting and something she had not seen before, she said.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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