Northland iwi are holding a series of wānanga called Te Rawenga to celebrate the beginning of the Māori new year.
Te Rawenga is a Northland term that means celebration and the wānanga focuses on Puanga—the brightest star in the Orion constellation—to mark the beginning of the new year in Northland, rather than Matariki.
For Shaquille Shortland, one of the organisers of Te Rawenga, says it’s about old-world teachings in a new-world setting.
"To celebrate all the blessings that we have already received, and to chase the blessings of the new year.”
He says Te Rawenga reveals and teaches the customs associated with Puanga and Matariki such as commemorating those who have passed away, a tradition known as Hautapu. Te Kākara o Te Ariki and Te Umu Kohu are also terms for this ritual.
The first wānanga was held at the start of June. The latest wānanga took place at Pēhiaweri marae in Whangārei and more will take place in different areas in Northland.
Facilitator Tohe Ashby says the retention of ancient knowledge and practises starts with wānanga like Te Rawenga.
"These are the baskets of knowledge that we are trying to fill, to equip our people with this knowledge."
Rueben Taipari, who is also a well-known practitioner of the Maramataka or Māori lunar calendar, says the wānanga caters to all not just Māori and has generated huge interest.
"It is a big occasion, Matariki. It's not just a holiday, it's an esteemed occasion for the country and for all people."
Mikayla Moore is a student who travelled from Auckland to attend the wānanga.
"With wānanga, you have to stay fluid, as it can go all night or finish early. You could really feel the power in the room and everyone was just interacting."