With one spectacular moonset and sunrise, spring has officially arrived. The clear, dry conditions as 60 watched the sunrise at Ātea a Rangi are a harbinger for a dry spring in the region.
The spring (vernal) equinox marks a point in the European calendar when the overhead sun shifts from the northern to the southern hemisphere and is the only time of year when the sun rises due east.
In the Māramataka Māori (Māori lunar calendar), the equinox is referred to as Te Whakawhitinga o te Rā o Kōanga and heralds a season of planting, fishing, and bird migration.
"For our tīpuna, for our navigators, the spring solstice is about the sun crossing over the eastern pou.
"The sun (Tamanuiterā) is moving from the realm of Hine Takurua, the winter maiden, to Hine Raumati, the summer maiden," Piripi Smith, trustee of the Ātea a Rangi Educational Trust, said.
In the European calendar, the equinox falls on September 23, but in Hawke's Bay, it was celebrated a day earlier at the Ātea a Rangi, due to the earlier rise of the equinox in Ahuriri/Napier.
"The sun rose this morning exactly on due east. We talked about the stars that come up before sunrise, and how these stars show the difference between seasons.
"We looked for Whakaahu Kerekere and Whakaahu Rangi, which are the heads of the Gemini twins and rise from north-east at this time of year," Smith said.
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These tohu (signs) denote the spring season, a time of year that promises particularly dry and warm weather.
"The weather for the first few days of the spring equinox will be unsettled, with large parts of cloud and a deep low exerting its influence over the nation, bringing warm wind and rain to the region," MetService meteorologist Angus Hine said.
The weather does not bode well for the East Coast of the North Island, with less rain than normal predicted for spring due to high-pressure systems in the east.
"The high pressure leads to more northeast wind flows than normal, which means we experience warmer than average temperatures, said Niwa meteorologist Seth Carrier.
"Hawke's Bay has a good chance to see warmer than average temperatures and near normal to below normal rainfall. This depends on exact pressure of wind flows, but we're looking at dry periods with occasional rainfall," said Carrier.
The drier weather does not bode well for farmers, growers, or whitebait fishermen, as Smith explains.
"Hans Rook has been doing wananga with us, to let other people understand how the drought in Hawke's Bay has meant that spawning eggs get dried up and whitebaiting seasons haven't been great," Smith said.