An evening of music, games, food and talk in Whanganui aims to revive the entertainment traditions of Puanga, the Aotearoa New Year, organiser Elise Goodge says.

Called Te Whare Tapere o Puanga, it's on July 26 at the Whanganui Regional Museum. It starts with an introduction to Māori games, toys and traditional musical instruments (taonga puoro), continues to a light supper and finishes with a performance by Whanganui band Awa - which fuses jazz, pop, rock, soul, folk and chant.

The evening will cost $10, with entrance to the museum through the Davis Lecture Theatre in Watt St, and it runs from 6.30 to 9pm.

Pōtaka (spinning tops) are a traditional Māori toy. Photo / Elise Goodge
Pōtaka (spinning tops) are a traditional Māori toy. Photo / Elise Goodge

Attendees of all ages will have a chance to try out some Māori games and taonga puoro in the first part of the evening, before eating, talking and sitting back to listen to Awa.


The band has been playing together for more than a year and consists of Sacha Keating on bass, Elizabeth de Vegt on keyboards, Andrew Wetherall playing guitar, Brad McMillan playing drums and Goodge herself playing a range of taonga puoro.

Its music is a mixture of traditional and contemporary and its own compositions can be on Whanganui subjects, and use te reo Māori.

Puanga is traditionally a time when people come together to acknowledge those who have died and to celebrate. It was a time to retreat into the warm and occupy each other during the cold winter with education, traditional craft and performance.

Te Whare Tapere was the house of performing arts, and the styles learned there came alive during winter.

The idea for Whanganui's Te Whare Tapere o Puanga arose from Awa's wish to play a Puanga concert, the Puanga organising committee's desire for a musical event and the museum's desire for an event bringing whānau (families) together.

"That fit really nicely with our kaupapa (purpose) to increase exposure of taonga puoro to all ages," Goodge said.