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SIMON.HENDERSON

@thenews.co.nz

Matariki – the Maori new year – will be celebrated in Alexandra with stories and a fireworks display at the Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery on June 26.

The gathering will begin at 5pm with stories from Matariki and activities for children including lantern making and face painting.

Then at 6pm the Alexandra Volunteer Fire Brigade will let off fireworks in Pioneer Park near the museum.

Museum administration co-ordinator Sue Tait said their nightscapes photographic exhibition had been extended to coincide with Matariki and would end on July 7.

Matariki co-organiser Alesha Robinson said local kapa haka group Te Ao Huri would perform and two pupils from Dunstan High School who recently took part in the Nga Manu Korero speech competition would speak.

Traditionally, Matariki began when a cluster of seven stars were observed in the pre-dawn sky, sometimes described as Matariki surrounded by her six daughters, although others suggested Matariki was a male star.

Each iwi had their own names for the stars, but some common names were Matariki, Uru-a-rangi, Tupu-a-rangi, Tupu-a-nuku, Waipuna-a-rangi, Waita and Waiti.

There was no specific day for Matariki “because you don’t know when the stars will come out,” Mrs Robinson said.

“Matariki signifies the beginning of the Maori calendar, the beginning of the Maori new year.”

The stars held “so many stories, in terms of Maori mythology,” Mrs Robinson said.

It was a celebration of “those who have passed over, those who are present now, and all those beautiful babies who are yet to be born”.