The Aotearoa New Year begins - in Whanganui - when the star Puanga rises in the east on a winter morning.
Laurel Stowell asks what it's all about.
More and more people know about Puanga and that is exciting and wonderful for Āwhina Twomey.
As Whanganui Regional Museum's kaitiaki taonga Māori and kaiwhakaako Māori she's been teaching about Puanga for years. It seems to be taking off.
"I hope there's a time when I do myself out of a job, and it's happening," she said.
It's been a long journey that has been shared by other regions. All of New Zealand will have its first Māori New Year public holiday next year on June 24.
For most of this country the Māori New Year begins when Matariki (the Pleiades) rise in the east. They can be seen from Whanganui, but the people in Whanganui and in South Taranaki and parts of the South Island chose Puanga as their herald.
Puanga, also known as Rigel, is the bright star above and to the left of Tautoru - the three stars of Orion's belt. They look more like the handle of a pot for us.
Exactly when the new year is celebrated varies from iwi to iwi.
The time depends on the phase of the moon.
In pre-European times Māori used a lunar calendar, known as the Maramataka.
The new year might begin with Tangaroa, a night of plenty when the moon is full but starting to fade from the righthand side.
Often it ends on the night of Whiro, when the new moon is barely visible - a night of pestilence and mishap.
"We noticed that when the moon does something it affects people and animals and plants and water - not just the tides but the rivers, lakes and water underground. We were people of science," Twomey said.
But it always began the cold months. By that time food should have been stored for winter and there would be surplus, ready for at least a week of hākari (feasting).
The hosts would have their best kūmara sorted and ready. Manuhiri would bring contributions, such as birds preserved in fat and held in tōtara bark containers.
"It's considered a sin in the Māori world to go with just your head. The contributions were large. The feasts were actual real feasts. We didn't do things by halves," Twomey said.
The hosts would build whata kai to stack food for the feast. They could be 10 or 12 storeys high and they intrigued Europeans who saw them.
There are historic records of visitors bringing 400 preserved birds to a Whanganui feast.
There was always fire at the celebration, and food is symbolically offered to the stars, after their long journey.
The celebration was also a great time for catching up with whānau.
A focal point was the naming of those who had died in the year before. It was also a time for stories "remembering who you are, who you descend from, where you came from and how you got to where you are".
The winter months are a time for rest, for reflecting on the past and planning new ventures. There were more indoor activities, such as weaving.
When Europeans arrived their Gregorian calendar displaced the Maramataka. In the Northern Hemisphere the new year begins at the onset of winter and the settlers chose to keep to the same time frame - which put it in early summer in Aotearoa.
"We are the dumb-dumbs that took on somebody else's calendar as if it was our land's calendar," Twomey said.
However many Māori continued to celebrate as winter began. Twomey remembers doing so at Rangahaua Marae when she was training there in the 1990s.
In 2003 Whanganui iwi mounted their Te Awa Tupua exhibition at Te Papa in Wellington. It lasted until May 2006 and was hosted by Whanganui kaumātua.
"They got to be part of Matariki celebrations at Te Papa. That awakened something for them. Uncle John decided they would bring that thing back, to be celebrated in Whanganui, as an iwi."
A Puanga Working Committee was formed, covering the Ruapehu, Whanganui and Rangitīkei districts. It marked the new year with karakia on Mt Ruapehu and on the Whanganui River. This year's mountain karakia happened on June 14, with river karakia on July 2 and breakfast to follow at Putiki Marae.
At Putiki people who have died in the previous year were named at the fireside, and attendees got a brochure listing other Puanga events.
For a while the committee had a website listing them. Now it mainly uses the Puanga ki Whanganui Facebook page.
In the past the committee has organised traditional kai nights, concerts of traditional music and library sessions where people research their whakapapa. There have been exhibitions, fashion shows, sports tournaments and book launches.
Twomey's family are "whakapapa buffs" and she's keen on the ancestry side. In her 12 years of teaching she only met one person who could give the names of eight great-grandparents- and she says that's a big loss.
"If somebody continues to say my name, I live. Those names that we can't say, they're all gone. They're dead to us.
"We are not honouring those who have come before, those who did the hard yards, who gave up an awful lot to get us here. We need to remember them," she said.
She suggests projects where children talk to their adults. The first question they should ask is what their first name means, who gave it to them and why.
"My kids know when was their first European blood, and the lines of descent from those people down to themselves."
Whanganui schools now embrace Puanga. They hold concerts, breakfasts and community meals.
"They're getting quite good at it. I find that really, really exciting and cool," Twomey said.
In South Taranaki, Māori also look to Puanga as their new year star, Maōri Party list MP Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said. Koroua and kaumātua set a time for the karakia. They are often held at the Stratford Mountain House, which Ngāti Ruanui now owns.
Fire is usually involved, and not just for cooking.
"We light up the sky and let everyone know that we are thriving, we are alive - but it's also to keep ourselves warm."
The Mountain House has a lookout where people can see all of the eastern mountain, down to the sea. Participants recite the names of those who have died, been born or married.
The karakia are usually followed by kai and entertainment - often its youth kapa haka. For the past two years the celebration has been viewable on Zoom, to open it wider.
Ngarewa-Packer and Twomey are delighted there will be a nationwide Matariki public holiday next year. The Māori Party called for it years ago, Ngarewa-Packer said.
"It's really great to see New Zealand is adopting holidays and protocols that are reflective of us as a Polynesian nation. It's a sign of great things to come. It means that we are more in tune with our environment and each other."
Twomey looks forward to a time when celebrating the Aotearoa New Year as winter begins becomes second nature for Whanganui people.
"I will be really proud of that day," she said.