070622SPLMATARIKI, Wiremu Sarich (left), Bernard Makoare and Pouroto Ngaropo - all tohunga (experts) in their fields of matauranga Māori. Photo / Rueben Taipari
In the lead up to the first-ever Matariki national public holiday on June 24, a series of wānanga (workshops) dedicated to Puanga-Matariki celebrations kicked off last week in Te Taitokerau.
The Te Rawenga Puanga-Matariki ki te Taitokerau wānanga is the work of Māori astrology expert Rereata Makiha and Maramataka (Māori lunar calendar) practitioner Rueben Taipari, who aim to promote a better understanding of Puanga-Matariki for all.
According to Makiha, "Te Rawenga" is an old Ngāpuhi word for celebration, with Rawenga "representing a celebration of all the kōrero our tūpuna (ancestors) left for us to guide us on our many journeys".
Every year across Aotearoa New Zealand all iwi celebrate the Māori New Year in June or July, however not all refer specifically to this time of year as Matariki, with some instead referring to it as 'Puanga'.
According to Te Papa Tongarewa (Museum of New Zealand), Puanga is given prominence as some iwi struggle to see the Matariki star clearly from their locality and therefore look to the next important star, Puanga, the brightest star in the Orion constellation.
This is not seen as a rejection of Matariki as many iwi still refer to Matariki (and the other names in the Orion constellation) however, Puanga is given preference.
Matariki can be found below Puanga and to the left of Tautoru (the three stars of Orion's Belt) in the late autumn and early winter night sky.
The tribes of Whanganui, Taranaki, parts of the Far North, and parts of the South Island recognise Puanga.
Makiha and Taipari kicked off the first two of their six wānanga across Northland last week, with the first in Omapere attracting around 180 people and the second in Ahipara at the weekend drawing more than 250 people to the workshop.
Taipari said the wānanga kaupapa (purpose) was to share Puanga-Matariki customs and protocols in order for all people to understand the importance of the celebrations.
"It is much more than just a public holiday, it is very helpful to guide you on a celestial journey that has practical and environmental benefits to help us be better kaitiaki (guardians) of our society," Taipari said.
"The level of knowledge our speakers share is literally world-class, with many having travelled around the world to share their knowledge.
"Pouroto Ngaropo travelled from Whakatane where he teaches his hapū and iwi and told attendees there were no levels in Te Rawenga - that we should be accessible for everybody who wants to learn about our culture and who wants to understand our purpose here on Papatuanuku (earth).
"Māori language expert Isaiah Thomas also came from Waitangi marae to listen and said, 'mauri ora nga ki ū ki to tatou kaupapa' - Te Rawenga is a wānanga for everybody."
Wiremu Sarich, Kumeroa Gregory, Betsy Young and Bernard Makoare were also present at the weekend's wānanga, who shared their individual experiences and knowledge based on a lifetime of commitment to learning about the subject.
According to Taipari, the Te Rawenga wānanga incorporates five stages of learning: 1). 'Te Rapunga' (You search for it); 2) 'Te Kitenga' (You see it); 3) Te Whainga; (You understand it); 4) Te Whiwhinga (You find it), and 5) Te Rawenga (You make it).
For those who missed out on the first two wānanga, you can catch one of the remaining four at various locations around Te Taitokerau.
The next two wānanga are scheduled for Whangārei - Ko Mawharu te Marama on June 10-11 at Pehiāweri Marae and Whangaroa - Ko Takirau te Marama on June 17-18, Tapui Marae.
The fifth wānanga will be spread across the region in all Te Taitokerau local communities, with the sixth and final wānanga to be held in Taiamai at Parawhenua marae at a date to be advised.
To find out more, follow @terawenga on Facebook and/or Instagram or contact Rueben Taipari on www.manawhenua.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.