Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Book Review : Puanga, star of the Maori New Year

Matariki 



Puanga, star of the Māori New Year = Ko Puanga-nui-ā-rangi te whetū mātāmua o te tau hou Māori : nānā i ārahi i ā Matariki tana tuahine tō muri iho / Sam Rerekura  B.Ed, Dip. Tchg, Dip. Film & TV Cert. Tertiary Tchg Director, Te Whare Wananga o Nga Puhi-nui-tonu

"Puanga is the star Rigel in Orion. Most of the tribes of the Māori people in Aotearoa observed Puanga to mark the beginning of the Māori New Year. In Māori mythology he was believed to be the older brother of Matariki. His cosmic rising between May and June in the early morning sky signalled the beginning of winter. Which is why Māori knew him as the foremost winter star. A practical reason why Māori marked the New Year at this particular time of the year was because Puanga's heliacal rising coincided with the end of the harvest where the first fruits were eaten during a three-day festival of lights. The religious reason why Māori began the New Year in May-June was because it was the only time in the year when all the most significant stars important in Māori mythology rose at the same time at dawn. The kumara had been lifted, pigeons were being stored away in calabash containers and shark had been hung out to dry ready for the winter months. The New Year was a sacred time for Māori when offerings were made to Puanga and laid out by the tohunga priesthood on taahu altar shrines as a gesture of thanksgiving"   Summary from Pg 4.


The author has dedicated this book to his old professor Dr Bruce Biggs, who enhanced his ability to translate better and increase his analytical skills when studying Maori oral literature.

This book is well researched and written with many fabulous illustrations including photographs of Maori life in times past and is the most in depth history of Matariki available and includes the traditions around cultivating and harvesting by the stars, he also includes whakapapa.