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Mainstreet gardeners find unique way to celebrate Puanga

Monday 27 May 2012
Media release – For immediate use

Puanga Festival Returns
Mainstreet gardeners find unique way to celebrate Puanga

Puanga is a time to reflect on the past, acknowledging those who have passed on whilst looking towards the future and the up-coming new season. This year the Maori New Year starts with the new moon on Monday 10 June (Pipiri). Most other regions call this celebration Matariki as it is heralded by the arrival of the star constellation Matariki (Pleiades) in the dawn sky, though throughout the Whanganui and Taranaki region it is the rising of the preceding star Puanga (Rigel) that signals the beginning of celebrations. Matariki celebrations have gained momentum nationally in recent years and have inspired Iwi (tribe), Hapu (sub-tribe) and whanau (family) to gather for events and to share traditional Maori culture with the wider community. Whanganui is no exception and many local organisations have come together to create a series of public events to celebrate Puanga.

Mainstreet Wanganui put their thinking caps on and decided to put their green thumbs to work with a garden installation to mark the start of Puanga. The fountain in Majestic Square will be turned off for the Month of June and will be turned into a native garden. All of the plants in the garden have been selected by Fred Allen who is an expert in Rongoa Maori (traditional plant knowledge) and is one of the trustees on the national Te Kahui Rongoa Trust. The plants represent species that would have been gathered at this time of year in preparation for the winter and include Rongoa Kai, plants you eat, Kakahu, plants to make clothing and Rongoa, plants that heal.

The plants have all been supplied by the Whanganui Prison Nursery who have an extensive selection of native species. “Our idea behind the garden is twofold,” says Mainstreet Marketing Manager Elise Goodge, “we wanted to highlight the beginning of Puanga celebrations in our region by having something in the CBD, we also wanted to use the garden as an education tool to teach people about the amazing properties of native plants, many of which they will already have in their garden.”

The garden will be installed on Tuesday 4 June, complete with information panels. All the plants will be removed on Tuesday 2 July at 12 noon and given away to anyone who would like to re-plant them in their own gardens.

What: Puanga Garden
When: Tuesday 4 June – Tuesday 2 July
Where: Majestic Square


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