In the rich tapestry of Maori culture, Puanga shines brightly as a significant celestial event with deep cultural and spiritual significance. Puanga also known as Rigel, is a prominant star in the orion constellation. It appears during the Matariki season, signalling the arrival of the Māori new year. Puanga is respected as a symbol of new beginnings, harvest and a time of reflection and planning. The apprearance of Puanga in the dawn sky is seen as a time for whānau to come together, honor ancestors and celebrate the achievements of the past year.
This year Ngati Mutunga celebrated Puanga at the pā. The planning started off as a simple way to bring whānau together, to reflect, remember and look forward to the coming year. We had our whanaunga Nick Rattenbury and his family join us from Auckland University to share his mātauranga about the universe above and the constellation where Puanga resides.
This year we were lucky enough to have two Puanga ceremonies for the first time. The first one (hau tuku) started after a shared kai on Thursday night. Our fire was lit and the first karanga went out to acknowledge those that have departed. The purpose of this ceremony is around letting go at the end of the year, and where we remember and reset. We provided a space and time for whānau to call out names of those who have passed and to release any toimahatanga. Its an opportunity to reset, let go of any challenges, raruraru or anything that weighs you down. We shared Karakia and waiata to close off the ceremony., allowing
Early Friday morning while many still slept, our fire was lit and whānau begun to prepare for our hau tapu (to feed the stars with a sacred offering) ceremony. This is when certain foods are selected from each of the domains of Tupuānuku, Tupuārangi, Waitī and Waitā. They are cooked and uncovered and the steam from within rises into the sky, where Matariki gathers then feasts, thus opening up the new year. During this ceremony the clouds opened up and allowed Puanga to shine through, giving our whānau an opportunity to see Puanga, Orions belt and venus all shining brightly even if it was only a short time.
After the ceremony was completed, breakfast was served and enjoyed by all. We look forward to next year and incorporating these ceremonies again.