This year a series of events are being held across the district for Puanga Matariki, co-ordinated by Horowhenua District Council.

Beginning and ending at Horowhenua's culture and community centre, Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō during the week of June 16-25 Matariki celebrations will also include events at Foxton and Shannon.

When the Matariki stars rise in the eastern skies of New Zealand, it signals a celebration of the Māori new year throughout the country. The Horowhenua celebrates Puanga, the new year's star visible throughout Matariki from along New Zealand's west coast. It is a time to wānanga, to honour the ancestors and plant hope for the future.

All are welcome to enjoy a varied programme of free workshops, a stargazing evening at Foxton, Starlab Planetarium at Shannon and Te Takere, fun games, workshops, music, kapa haka and community kai.


Starting with a powhiri and karakia, the Starlab will be in place on Friday and Saturday, June 16 and 17. Inside this inflatable planetarium, people experience an audio-visual spectacle lead by expert astronomer Gloria Witherford.

Throughout the week Maoritanga and taonga treasures will be displayed with the chance to learn skills in immersive free workshops. A Ta moko artist and harakeke weavers will be resident at various times during opening hours.

The week's activity culminates in concerts of Kapa haka and waiata on Friday and Saturday, June 23 and 24, events designed to share the heart and spirit of our community with hakari where you are invited to bring an offering and sample hangi to celebrate the new year.

The celebrations end with a concert in te reo and English by singer-songwriter Brannigan Kaa on Sunday, June 25, the day Matariki appears in the west.

For the events schedule, visit

From the Ministry for Culture and Heritage:
What is Matariki?

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter and for many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year.

Matariki literally means the 'eyes of god' (mata ariki) or 'little eyes' (mata riki). According to myth, when Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, were separated by their children, the god of the winds, Tāwhirimātea, became so angry that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens. Traditionally, it was a time for remembering the dead, and celebrating new life. In the 21st century, observing Matariki has become popular again.


When is Matariki?

Different tribes celebrated Matariki at different times. To some tribes the new year in mid-winter was signalled by the dawn rising of Matariki (the Pleiades), while to others it was the rising of Puanga (Rigel in Orion). For many iwi the appearance of Puanga in the night sky signalled the start of winter. Puanga was said to be one of the parents of the climbing plant puawānanga.

The Maramataka Māori (Māori calendar) has closer to 355 days in its year cycle as opposed to 365 days in the Gregorian calendar which apparently follows the sun. Pipiri, the time of Matariki's rising in the early morning, does not match up with June.

Additionally, just because Matariki must be read when the moon is in the right phase in Pipiri: when the moon is in Tangaroa at the end of its third quarter and into the last quarter. The celebrations take place after this.


A vibrant programme of workshops, games, stories, music, performances and more is set to mark the annual celebration of Puanga Matariki in Horowhenua.

This year's Puanga Matariki events will run from Monday, June 18 to Sunday, June 24.

The events will be held at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō in Levin and Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom in Foxton.

Programme activities are free and include a karakia, exhibitions, workshops, Starlab planetarium and a concert.

An exhibition of contemporary weaving, Te Marama Puta - Emerging Light, will be held throughout Matariki to display the works of nine weavers from Te Kokiri Development Consultancy. The weavers represent different iwi as well as other communities. During the exhibition, the weavers will offer interactive activities for the public, including finger string games and plaiting workshops using harakeke (flax).

There will be plenty of events for families, including two classes led by Punahau Early Childhood Care Centre to introduce children to Puanga Matariki - one in English at 10am on Wednesday, June 20 and one in te reo Māori at 10am on Thursday, June 21.

Families will also be able to experience sand picture storytelling at 6pm on Friday, June 22, followed by Māori song and dance in a primary school kapa haka showcase at 6.30pm.

A community kai and performance from Levin East Kapa Haka at 5pm on Saturday, June 23, supported by Te Kokiri Development Consultancy, will bring families together to enjoy good food and entertainment with a community spirit.

A Sunday concert at 2pm on Sunday, June 24 by premier New Zealand blues artist Bullfrog Rata is to bring a musical close to the official celebrations.

The Matariki observances continue after the official programme ends, with the Starlab planetarium at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom offering a school programme and public sessions on Wednesday, July 4.

All other events on the Matariki programme will take place at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō.