Puanga Maunga Karakia simply stunning

A freezing-cold storm front failed to deter local iwi and the wider Ruapehu community from coming together to celebrate the annual Puanga Maunga Karakia in Ohākune.

Early on Monday morning with blizzard conditions hammering the base of Tūroa ski field, over 250 whānau from around the region welcomed in the Māori New Year from outside the Ngāti Rangi office.

Seen twinkling in the winter sky just before dawn in late May or early June, Ngāti Rangi Trust chair Shar Amner said the constellation Puanga, or Rigel, signals the start of the annual local festivities.

"It was a great morning.

"Puanga is a time to remember our loved ones, a time to grow our thinking and to wānanga as a people and community as we all look forward to a prosperous year ahead.

"Puanga is the star that guides Matariki into the horizon signaling the Māori New Year and the way it's done here ensures we involve the whole community so that we can all celebrate together."

In partnership with Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL), Mr Amner said traditionally the significant event is held at the base of the ski-field on Mount Ruapehu.

"At 4am we made the call.

"Again with help from RAL, this year a small group of local iwi went up to the top of the Mountain Road for, and on behalf of us all to conduct the ceremony in the middle of the blizzard.

"A ceremony was also conducted at the Southern gateway to the Tongariro National Park outside the Ngāti Rangi office followed by us coming together again to celebrate and enjoy a meal at Maungārongo Marae."

There are a number of Puanga events still to be held across the Ruapehu/Whanganui region in the coming weeks.

For more information head to our special puanga page HERE or puanga.org.nz