Stratford residents and visitors to the district are invited to come together for a community celebration for Puanga – the Māori New Year.
From this Saturday to June 29, people can get involved with free activities to reflect, learn, share and celebrate Puanga.
"Puanga is a time to reflect on the year that's been and look to the future," Stratford District Council Community Services Director Kate Whareaitu says.
"We're encouraging community members to visit our Puanga rākau (tree) in Prospero Place throughout the week and participate in a reflections and aspirations activity."
They invite people to write down any burdens they have, or the names of loved ones who have passed in the last year on purple paper provided. These will be burned at the closing event, a Puanga Market Day on Saturday, June 29, to signal a celebration of moving forward.
People can also write down their aspirations and goals on orange paper provided for te tau hou – the new year. These get placed on the rākau throughout the week, and will be collected on Saturday, June 29 and then burned at Stratford district's Puanga celebration in 2020.
"This is the first time we've done something with the community for Puanga," says Kate.
"It's really exciting and we want to continue it for years to come. I hope the community gets involved, share their own stories of Puanga or learn something new."
Other events include a special Puanga Tot Time at Stratford Library on Wednesday, June 26, and Puanga Market Day in collaboration with the Prospero Place Farmers Market on Saturday, June 29.
"Visitors to the Puanga Market Day can enjoy an abundance of stalls, wānanga, storytelling and entertainment to close the week-long Puanga celebration," says Kate.
A full timetable of activities will be posted on the Council's Facebook page before the event, and at www.stratford.govt.nz
Stratford District Council thanked Whaakahurangi Marae, TSB Community Trust and the Māori Womens Welfare League for their support with this community celebration.