Puanga to be celebrated in Stratford

The Māori New Year is being celebrated in Stratford with a series of free activities for the community.

Stratford residents and visitors to the district are invited to come together from June 22 to 29 to mark Puanga – The Māori New Year.

Stratford District Council’s community services director Kate Whareaitu said Puanga was a time to reflect on the year that’s been and look to the future.

“This is the first time we’ve done something with the community for Puanga. It’s really exciting and we want to continue it for years to come.

“I hope the community get involved, share their own stories of Puanga or learn something new.”

She said people were encouraged to visit the Puanga rakau (tree) in Prospero Place throughout the week and participate in a reflections and aspirations activity.

The activity invites people to write down any burdens they have, or the names of loved ones who have passed in the last year on purple paper provided. These will be burned at the closing event, a Puanga Market Day on Saturday June 29, to signal a celebration of moving forward.

People can also write down their aspirations and goals on orange paper provided for te tau hou – the New Year. These get placed on the rakau throughout the week, and will be collected on the Saturday and then burned at Stratford district’s Puanga celebration in 2020.

“We’ve also had some awesome young people show us what Puanga means to them through a flag design competition, and you can see the four winning flags flying proudly down Broadway between the roundabouts,” Whareaitu said.

Ten-year-old Malia has designed one of the special flags for Puanga.

Other events acknowledging the celebration include a special Puanga Tot-Time at Stratford Library on Wednesday June 26, and Puanga Market Day in collaboration with the Prospero Place Farmers Market on Saturday June 29.

“Visitors to the Puanga Market Day can enjoy an abundance of stalls, wānanga, storytelling and entertainment to close the week long Puanga celebration,” Whareaitu said.

She said the Puanga celebrations had been made possible by Stratford District Council, Whaakahurangi Marae, TSB Community Trust and the Māori Womens Welfare League.

A full timetable of activities for this day will be posted on the Council’s Facebook page prior to the event, and at www.stratford.govt.nz.