Matariki - the Maori New Year - could one day be as big as Christmas, says the co-ordinator of Hawke's Bay celebrations, Te Rangi Huata.
Matariki runs from the end of May to the middle of July. From 10am today, the Hawke's Bay Opera House will be hosting kapahaka groups, traditional Maori hand games and tug-of-war competitions, topped off with fireworks.
Kaumatua aged between 50 and 82 will take the stage tonight, singing songs composed before 1972.
"We wanted to celebrate in a way that would revive the traditions of the Maori in a modern way that all would enjoy," Mr Huata said.
"To have a day like this is a modern way to pay our respects to the stars in the sky and the earth."
While talk of the stars and the earth may sound too spiritual for some, Mr Huata said Matariki celebrations are just all about "fun, feasting and festivities".
"Matariki is not a serious celebration but a chance for us to give thanks for the bounty we get from the earth and the sea and the role the sky plays in that," he said.
"For food harvesters, this makes complete sense and it's a reality check for the rest of us who tend to buy things from the supermarket and forget about how this food came to be."
He said New Zealanders should take pride in Matariki as it is not marked anywhere else in the world.
"Other festivals or special dates have been brought here from somewhere else," Mr Huata said.
Matariki is celebrated on different days with Hastings and Napier celebrating today and Sunday at the Farmers' Market, Waipukurau celebrates on June 16, Masterton on June 24, Wairoa on June 30 and Pahiatua on July 7.
When Matariki celebration started in Hawke's Bay in 2000 it attracted 1000 people. Last year the Hastings celebrations attracted 3000.
"Matariki is open to everyone to celebrate.
"It may start in public domains like this or it could just be a dinner at home with family."