Lanterns light new year fest

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Matariki preparations are well under way in Timaru.
Children at West End Kindergarten enjoyed a disco and lantern walk last Friday to celebrate Matariki — the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. The cluster rises in midwinter — late May or early June. For many Maori, it heralds the start of a new year.
Head teacher Rachel Pringle said for the past two weeks children had been learning about Matariki and making lanterns in preparation. The lanterns were lit on Friday night and children walked around the kindergarten scooter park in the dark, with the lanterns guiding the way.
‘‘Everybody brought shared kai and we enjoyed eating and dancing,’’ she said.
The Te Ana Ngai Tahu Rock Art Centre has been working with South Canterbury schools to make karetao (puppets) and share legends surrounding the stars Rehua and Puaka.
Four puppet-making workshops have been held in the Timaru Library.
About 600 pupils throughout the region are participating in the programme, which will end with the annual Matariki celebration on June 26, which this year will include a performance by the Toro Pikopiko Puppet Troupe called Mighty Maui. – The two shows will be held at the upstairs function room in the Landing Service Building, one at 4pm and one at 6pm. The cost is $5 per person or $10 per family (two adults and three children). The performance will be interactive and children are encouraged to bring along their puppets to participate in the show.