Rotorua school-children have enjoyed learning about and celebrating Matariki this week.

Matariki is the Māori name for the star cluster known as Pleiades. When Matariki reappears in our dawn skies it heralds the start of Te Tau Hou Māori – the Māori New Year.

This year, Matariki reappeared from June 25 to 28.

There have been many events on throughout the week to celebrate Matariki in Rotorua, including events and tamariki activities at Te Puia.

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Mokoia Intermediate's Year 8 class P2 was one of the classes which visited Te Puia I NZMACI this week, on Wednesday.

Teacher Lisa Tewhare thinks that the community having access to Te Puia through the schools is not just important but imperative.

"For Te Puia to reach out to our schools it is fantastic, and it is also learning through the arts. Learning through the arts is extremely important for our kids.

"We are very grateful to Te Puia for giving us this opportunity."

She says while at Te Puia the class took part in a discussion about Matariki and the nine stars.

The children are understanding more about how old-time Maori used their environment to forecast what the year was going to bring, she says.

Mokoia Intermediate pupils William Bosma, 13, and Toni-Maree White, 12, say activities they had done at Te Puia include colouring, cooking food in one of the hot pools, sitting on hot seats and making cardboard waka.

William says the cooking of corn and eggs was pretty cool - "We learnt how long it takes to cook, five minutes for eggs and 10 minutes for the corn".

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He also enjoyed looking at the geysers and mud pools.

William says he would like to have trips to Te Puia more often.

"It's very fun and you see all the carvings."

Toni-Maree says throughout the day they learnt about the Maori culture, Matariki, and how people used to do things in the past.

A class from Whakarewarewa School was also taking part in tamariki activities on Wednesday, and together the classes enjoyed a concert after the activities too.

New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute artist and tumu (head) of schools Arekatera Maihi works on tā moko. Photo / Shauni James
New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute artist and tumu (head) of schools Arekatera Maihi works on tā moko. Photo / Shauni James

Te Puia resident tā moko artist Jacob Tautari says quite a lot of schools have also been through to see tā moko artists leaving their mark on visitors, including guest artists.

"It's cool for the kids to interact and see how our traditional tattoo work's being done."

He says it is cool having all the artists under one roof, and that all the artists are vibing off each other.