A hāngī pit was dug, food was cooked and a meal was shared at Whanganui High School to celebrate Matariki.

The school's four whānau classes that involved just over 100 students, planned and prepared for the day's celebrations.

Māori Dean Sean Brown said those students were responsible for koha and bring food and a lot of families have contributed the gift of food for Friday's meal.

Pork, venison, beef and eel that was gifted had been hunted and brought down from up the Whanganui river.

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"We've celebrated Matariki, Māori new year, in the past but we wanted to make an effort this year to do it a traditional way," Brown said.

Marino Pauro, Julz Petzold-Thompson, Hikaroa Tamehana and Justin Baty all helped to put on a hāngī for Whanganui High School to celebrate Matariki. Photo / Bevan Conley
Marino Pauro, Julz Petzold-Thompson, Hikaroa Tamehana and Justin Baty all helped to put on a hāngī for Whanganui High School to celebrate Matariki. Photo / Bevan Conley

A small working party of 15, including staff and students, dug the hāngī on Thursday evening, stayed overnight and then prepared it for Friday's lunch.

Brown said he assumes this is the first time they have dug a hāngī on school grounds.

On Friday morning, students played traditional Māori games such as tītī tōrea before all school staff, international students and whānau students gathered for the lunch.

As Matariki is a cluster of stars, Whanganui celebrates its own regal star, Puanga that appears mid-June.