The rain came down on Patea for Wednesday's Matariki/Puanga celebration, but that did not deter about 500 visitors from attending the event.

There was singing, dancing, workshops and feasting on offer, as children from the area kohanga reo, preschools and primary schools packed in to the Patea Area School Hall and classrooms.

There were workshops and stalls for face painting and henna body painting, a chance to help create a Matariki mosaic that will be raffled as a school fundraiser, and Andy Maruera was conducting his popular dance workshops.

The Armstrong brothers with their band The Slacks warmed the audience up with some classic rock before less seasoned performers took to the stage.


There were performances from the kohanga reo groups and visitors from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tamarongo in Opunake overcame their initial shyness to sing two waiata.

Patea Area School dancers presented their NCEA-accredited work and two of the school's singers gave impressive solo performances. Year 11 student Taagen Garrett sang her rendition of Bon Iver's Skinny Love and Year 10 student Vivian Weherua took the much-covered Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah and made it her own.

Matariki is celebrated on the shortest day of the year when the cluster of stars known as the pleiades or seven sisters appears in the southern sky.

Alongside Maori traditions, the Matariki celebration at Patea Area School incorporated some international cultures, and teacher Anil Singh added elements of her Indian customs. Some students were wearing bright saris with henna designs on their hands and arms.

Exchange student Rebekka Petursdottir is from Iceland and said she has loved getting to know her Kiwi classmates and living in Patea.

"I haven't managed to learn much Maori language but I have learned to count in te reo."

The school also hosted some special guests earlier in the term when students served luncheon to a gathering of 80 "community treasures" otherwise known as senior citizens.