Preschoolers and pupils will be getting their green thumbs out to help with planting native trees in a local park for Matariki.

The idea came from Rebecca Larsen, a Tauranga children's author, who thought planting a cluster of kōwhai trees was a good way to celebrate the Māori New Year.

The trees would be planted at Pacific Park in Arataki today during the "rising of Matariki" and would provide "a cluster of growth" for tūī and other native birds in the area, she said.

Some kindergartens and schools across the city put in a small donation towards each of the trees, with children and parents planning to head down to help with the planting.


Preschoolers and pupils involved were provided with a star to write a wish on to be planted alongside the trees. This having a direct connection to Hiwa-i-te-Rangi, also known as the wishing star of Matariki.

Matariki is a cluster of stars that rises in mid-winter that in Māori tradition heralds the start of a new year. Matariki translates to the "eyes of God" or "little eyes".

Larsen recently released her book Twinkle, Twinkle Matariki, that explored the meaning of the Māori New Year.

Centre manager at Lollipops childcare in Pāpāmoa, Toni Thorne, said Larsen had come in for her book launch and had floated the idea of planting the kōwhai trees for Matariki.

They jumped straight on board to sponsor the initiative, as they believed allowing the children to get involved with the planting was a great way for them to connect and gain a sense of respect and love for their environment, she said.

She said Matariki represented new beginnings so it was a fitting way to commemorate it.

Tauranga City Council also got on board, with manager of strategic Māori engagement Carlos Ellis saying when the council was approached with the idea, it was happy to provide support.

He said the beauty of Matariki is that it is a kaupapa Māori that is shared with the community.


The local early childhood centres and schools getting involved:

Arataki School
Lollipops Papamoa
Acorn Kids
Greerton Village Kindergarten
The Blue Cottage
Future Focus
Arataki Kindergarten
Childs Wonder
Community Kindy Parton Rd