Soon to be seen twinkling in the winter sky just before dawn, the constellation Puanga, or Rigel, signals the Māori New Year and the time for iwi and the Ruapehu community to come together for the annual Maunga Karakia on 13 June.
Ngāti Rangi Trust chair Shar Amner said local iwi celebrate Puanga due to the difficulty in viewing Matariki, or Pleiades, because it sits so low on the eastern horizon.
"Western tribes of Aotearoa observe the rising of Puanga instead of Matariki to signify the beginning of the Māori New Year.
"Though many aspects of this time were traditionally the same as elsewhere in Aotearoa, the celebration of the rising of Puanga has its own special characteristics and stories which are unique to our region.
"We invite everyone in the community to join us in honouring this very important time of the year for iwi we celebrate new life and remember those who have passed."
With the start of Puanga being celebrated next Tuesday, Ngāti Rangi Pou Ārahi Andy Gowland-Douglas said the annual Maunga Karakia poses its own set of logistical challenges.
"Last year over 400 people joined us in what was a perfect, still, calm weather however there are no guarantees this is going to happen this year.
"Over the last couple of weeks a number of freezing-cold fronts have bought snow to Koro [Mt Ruapehu] and we are already working closely with RAL [Ruapehu Alpine Lifts] to ensure everyone's safety during our celebrations.
"Ice and snow on the Mountain Road are a distinct possibility and for this reason we highly encourage people to take the free transport leaving from Raetihi and Ohākune.
"If you need to take your own, please only use a four-wheel-drive vehicle and travel up behind the buses which are carrying our kaumatua."
Regardless of the weather, she also encourages people to ensure they are dressed for freezing-cold, alpine conditions as well as wearing durable non-slip shoes as ice has already begun to form on the Tūroa ski field car park.
As part of celebrations, the evening before the Maunga Karakia Ngāti Rangi are also hosting a Puanga wānanga at Maungārongo Marae and Puanga Kai Rau Dinner at Ruapehu College on 15 July.
To book transport for the Maunga Karakia or more information contact the Ngāti Rangi office on 0800 NRANGI / 06 385 9500 or email email@example.com.
Mountain Road conditions and weather updates will be posted on the Ngāti Rangi Trust Facebook page by 4.30am on Monday morning.
For more information head to our new Puanga page on our website HERE