A cold front that delivered freezing, stormy weather didn't stop iwi and the wider Ruapehu community gathering for the annual Puanga Maunga Karakia on Monday morning.

A small group from the local iwi made the trip to the top of Mountain Rd, with transport help from Ruapehu Alpine Lifts. They conducted a ceremony on behalf of all in the midst of the blizzard, while about 250 welcomed in the Maori New Year from the Ngati Rangi office at the base of the road.

The star Puanga, or Rigel, signalled the start of local festivities, Ngati Rangi Trust chairman Shar Amner said.

It is seen twinkling in the winter sky just before dawn in late May or early June and is the star that guides Matariki into the horizon.


He said it was a great morning on Monday.

"Puanga is a time to remember our loved ones, a time to grow our thinking and to wananga as a people and community as we all look forward to a prosperous year ahead."

After the ceremonies, the two groups came together to celebrate and have a meal at Ohakune's Maungarongo Marae.

Meanwhile, a Puanga Kai Night will be held at Ruapehu College in Ohakune on July 15.