News & Events

Matariki Puanga festival

Tuesday June 22 2021

Palmy will be celebrating the Māori new year with a Matariki Puanga festival at our awa (river).

Photo shows aerial view of illuminated pathway alongside the river.

Tini whetū ki te rangi, ko Rangitāne nui ki te whenua, the glowing path.

The event on Saturday 10 July will include a light show, kai, kapa haka, Māori storytelling and performances.

The celebration is being held from 4pm to 7pm at the glowing path Tini whetū ki te rangi, ko Rangitāne nui ki te whenua, along from the Albert Street entrance of the Manawatū River.

In 2019 the star attraction of the festival was a large bonfire made up of wood pulled from the river. This year our community will be treated to a light show, instead of a bonfire. The light show will be projected onto the cliff face opposite the festival.

Palmerston North City Council’s Acting Head of Events + Partnerships, Luke McIndoe says the light show is a first for the city and will be a great addition to the event.

“The light show will add to the fun and educational atmosphere of Matariki Puanga. The show is an exciting point of difference and it will be a real drawcard for families. We’re looking forward to the whole city coming together and celebrating an important time in the Māori calendar.”

Matariki is a cluster of stars known as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. The first new moon following the rise of Matariki is the first day of the Māori New Year. Matariki can be hard to see from Manawatū so some Māori instead give prominence to Puanga, another prominent star near Matariki.

McIndoe says the new event location along the river pathway was selected by iwi and is a great location to host the festival.

“As part of the Council’s Manawatū River Framework, Council is committed to working with iwi to draw more people to the river. This stretch of the river walkway features the glowing path and will be a vibrant place for performances and storytelling. The cliff face opposite the festival is also the perfect canvas for projecting the light show onto.

“Events like this ensure the river becomes a destination in our city where people come and spend time with their families and enjoy its beauty."

The festival can be accessed from the Fitzherbert bridge or Albert Street walkway entrances. If residents enter from the Fitzherbert bridge end, they will need to walk east down the walkway towards the Manawatū Golf Club. When entering from the Albert Street entrance, residents will need to walk west, towards the Fitzherbert bridge.

Residents are asked to wear gumboots or sneakers as it may be muddy, and bring a torch, and blankets to sit on.