Telling Matariki stories with puppets

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Preparations are in full swing in Timaru for Matariki celebrations.
Matariki is the Maori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in midwinter — late May or early June. For many Maori, it heralds the start of a new year.
Te Ana Ngai Tahu Rock Art Centre curator Amanda Symon said the organisation was working with South Canterbury schools with the theme of Karetao — Maori puppets and the legends surrounding the stars Rehua and Puaka.
‘‘The programme is based around a fun puppet-making activity, and encourages the art of storytelling for either a contemporary or traditional Purakau [myth, ancient legend or story],’’ she said.
About 1000 pupils throughout the region are participating in the programme.
The programme will culminate with the annual Matariki community event — this year, a performance from Toro Pikopiko Puppet Troupe called Mighty Maui.
The two shows will be held at the upstairs function room at the Landing Service Building, one at 4pm and one at 6pm.
The show will be based on the extraordinary deeds of superhero Maui, including his fishing up of land, slowing down the sun, shape-shifting and bringing fire to humankind.
Ms Symon said the performance was interactive and children were encouraged to bring along the puppets to participate in the show.
Four puppet-making workshops are also being held at the Timaru Library children’s area. Two were held on Saturday, and another two are this Saturday at 10am and 11am. – The workshops cost $6. To book, phone (03) 684-9141.