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Puanga Celebration Aims To Inspire Connection, Reflection, And Aspiration In Whakaahurangi, Stratford

In celebration of Puanga, the Māori New Year, Stratford District Council (SDC) and Ngāruahine Iwi Health Services are pleased to announce A Starry Night will return to Whakaahurangi, Stratford on Thursday 27 June at the Stratford War Memorial Centre, from 4pm to 8pm.

A Starry Night - Stratford 2022 (Photo: Berme Jordaan)

Ngāruahine Iwi Health Services and SDC have joined forces to deliver this year’s Puanga event. With a focus on entertainment, education, and hauora; a Māori philosophy of health and wellbeing, it’ll be a celebration for all ages.

SDC Community Development Advisor, Amy Kingston, says A Starry Night has been a popular addition to the local events calendar in recent years, fostering a sense of connection, reflection, and aspiration within our community. “This year will be even better as we work alongside Ngāruahine Iwi Health Services to weave together everything that makes this time of year so special while putting the health and wellbeing of our community centre stage.”

This year’s celebration is heading to the War Memorial Centre, Stratford, with indoor and outdoor lighting displays, fire poi entertainment, waiata, kanikani (dance), kōrero, kai, raranga (weaving), face painting, hands-on activities, and space to connect over a cuppa.

“We’re excited to host our community indoors this year for a comfortable, warm and immersive experience – the starry night glow room is sure to be a crowd favourite!” says Amy.

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“Coming together at this time of year is special. Puanga gives us the opportunity to celebrate our achievements, remember loved ones, and look forward to the future. It’s about connecting with whānau and friends, having a kōrero, and preparing for the year ahead,” says Amy. “Whether you’ve celebrated every year with us or you’ve never been involved before, nau mai haere mai, we invite everyone to come and enjoy the magic of Puanga.”

Ngāruahine Iwi Health services says collaborating with SDC on the celebrations will lead to an outcome that provides more of the wider community with the opportunity to participate in the 2024 Puanga celebrations than events developed in a silo.

A Starry Night won’t be the only activity locals can get involved with during Puanga. A full list of events is available below.

  • 17 June to 8 July: Puanga rākau reflections and aspirations activity in the Stratford Library and Visitor Information Centre. Write down your burdens or the names of loved ones you’ve lost in the past year and these will be burned as part of our celebrations, and hang your aspirations and goals for the year ahead on our rākau.
  • 17 June to 15 July: Check out our winning designs from the Puanga Flag Competition flying down Broadway. You can see all entries on display at the Library and Visitor Information Centre.
  • 24 June, 3.30pm: Puanga nui a rangi – Join Pounamu Skelton for an immersive, hour-long presentation that will transport you to the stars, uncovering the revered significance of Puanga nui a rangi in the Taranaki skies. Held in the War Memorial Centre, Stratford. FREE entry.
  • 27 June, 4pm – 8pm: A Starry Night event – a spectacular celebration in the War Memorial Centre. Visitors will enjoy:
    • Lighting displays (indoors and outdoors)
    • Fire poi displays by Fire and Flow
    • Weaving wānanga with Māori Womens Welfare League
    • Performances by Unity Wara and Boss Heke
    • Glow face painting
    • Hands-on activities for kids
    • Free sausage sizzle
    • Ice-cream
    • Hauora (health and wellbeing) stations
  • 28 June, 2:30pm: The Mountain screening at TET Kings Theatre – FREE entry
  • 29 June, 10am – 1pm: Prospero Markets, held in the town centre, Prospero Place, Stratford.
  • 30 June, 2pm: Coco in Te Reo Māori screening at TET Kings Theatre – FREE entry
  • Stratford Library and Visitor Information Centre will also be hosting tamariki from local primary schools throughout the week to learn about Puanga and Matariki through creative storytelling.

SDC is thankful to Whaakahurangi Marae, Māori Womens Welfare League, Toi Foundation, Taranaki Electricity Trust and Ngāruahine Iwi Health Services for their support with this year’s Puanga celebrations.


To stay up to date with Stratford’s Puanga celebrations for 2024, people should visit Stratford.govt.nz/Puanga.

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