Bilin­gual pic­ture song-book paints stars for Matariki


The Pleiades, painted rocks and a pic­ture book have com­bined to help cel­e­brate Matariki, the Maori New Year, in Manawatu.

Matariki is the Maori name for the star clus­ter known as the Pleiades. This ap­pears over New Zealand skies in June, and the first new moon af­ter it rises marks the start of Maori New Year.

This year, the day of the new moon falls on June 25. To mark the oc­ca­sion, Feild­ing-raised au­thor and il­lus­tra­tor Re­becca Larsen, who now lives in Pa­pamoa, has taken in­spi­ra­tion from Palmy Rocks.

Eigh­teen painted glow-in-thedark Matariki star rocks were hid­den in parks around the coun­try, in­clud­ing one each in Palmer­ston North and Feild­ing.

‘‘I pub­lished a cou­ple of clues and a photo of the hid­ing place on Face­book,’’ Larsen said.

Fin­ders who posted pic­tures of them­selves on Face­book with one of the star rocks win a copy of Larsen’s book and ac­com­pa­ny­ing mu­sic CD Row, Row, Row Your Waka, pub­lished late last year.

‘‘When it's June you'll see the moon/ and Matariki shin­ing bright’’ Re­becca Larsen

‘‘I grew up in Feild­ing, and have fam­ily there and in Palmer­ston North, who hid them for me.’’

The Palmer­ston North star, se­creted in a tree in Memo­rial Park, was found by Whanganui woman Robyn Pou­tini.

‘‘She said she hunted for about an hour in the rain for it.’’

Larsen said find­ing the rock was ob­vi­ously spe­cial for Pou­tini – her 7-month-old daugh­ter, Hi­wait­erangi Pou­tini Manley-Green, is named for one of the stars in the Matariki clus­ter.

Although she does not have Maori her­itage her­self, Larsen said te reo was an in­trin­sic part of New Zealand’s iden­tity and culture, and her song-book put a bilin­gual spin on the well-known Row, Row, Row Your Boat song.

‘‘I re-wrote it for my two boys. They liked the song and act­ing it out. I in­cor­po­rated New Zealand verses and had it trans­lated into te reo. My brother Richard and brother-in-law Paul Inia recorded the song.’’

‘‘The last verse goes: ‘Rock, rock, rock your waka/ through the starry night/ when it’s June you’ll see the moon/ and Matariki shin­ing bright’.’’

Larsen hopes the sim­ple tune and rep­e­ti­tion will help chil­dren pick up Maori words. In Au­gust, she will em­bark on her own voy­age to learn te reo and is work­ing on another book with a sim­i­lar con­cept.


Re­becca Larsen, au­thor of ‘‘Row Row Row Your Waka’’.

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