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’’.